Sri Lanka vacant apartments can be used for tourism: official

Mar 03, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tourist development office says owners of vacant apartments in Colombo will be given a chance to use them for tourism in a bid to expand room capacity in the capital amid a steep increase in tourist arrivals. Sri Lanka tourist development authority chairman Nalaka Godahewa said about 500 rooms can be added quickly in the city by making use of vacant apartments many of whose owners reside abroad.

“An apartment owner who can meet the requirements for tourists can ask for approval to make their apartments available for tourists,” Godahewa said.

The tourism industry hopes to add 3,000 to 4,000 new rooms in the next two years to cater to rising arrivals, he said.

Sri Lanka has about 12,000 hotel rooms, and authorities estimate that 35,000 rooms may be needed by 2016, when 2.5 million tourists are expected.

Serviced apartments make up an up-market niche in the leisure business.

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals increased 46 percent in 2010 after a 30-year war ended in May 2009.

Godahewa said state agencies also had about 2,000 circuit bungalows around the country which could be upgraded to house tourists.