Sri Lanka could use fresh water bodies for premium tourism

Dec 09, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankan policy makers should follow the Maldivian example by opening a few dozen of the thousands inland lakes in the country to attract high end tourists willing to pay high premiums for ‘privacy’, a top architect said. “People are willing to pay 200 – 300 dollars on a holiday, but if you have a privacy factor included, the premium is really high and that’s how Maldives is selling,” Murad Ismail, partner at MICD Associates, a chartered architectural firm said.

“For a long time I hear that we are going to be the next Maldives. We can’t be because we don’t have private beaches.”

Ismail has designed hotels in several Asian countries for Sri Lankan and international firms including luxury resort operator Four Seasons.

He is an associate of Asian architecture guru Geoffrey Bawa, who designed Kandalama Hotel, an international award winning hotel in Dambulla, central Sri Lanka, near a man-made reservoir of the same name.

Ismail says resorts in the Maldives charge as much 1,000 US dollars a night. Other low-end destinations like Indonesia that compete with Sri Lanka also have high-end private resorts inland, away from public beaches.

“If you take Four Seasons Siam, Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, of cour