Oct 03, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s John Keells group has tied up with a local university in a project to revive a coral reef that is the main draw on a southern beach where it will reopen a refurbished hotel. Chitral Jayatilake, head of eco tourism and special projects at John Keells Holdings, said the project with the faculty of oceanography of the Ruhunu University aims to revive coral growth at Hikkaduwa, which is famous for its reef.
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JKH has refurbished and expanded the former Coral Gardens Hotel and rebranded it as the Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa which is to be re-opened in November in time for the winter tourist season.
Chaaya Tranz Hikkaduwa was revamped and expanded to 150 rooms with a total investment of 1.2 billion rupees with the JKH group aiming to make it a base for whale watching in Mirissa, further down the south coast.
JKH also plans to raise room rates at Chaaya Tranz to around 200 US dollars. The average room rate at the 60-roomed former Coral Gardens Hotel was around 60 dollars.
Hikkaduwa’s main attraction is the coral reef which has been badly damaged and much-reduced owing to pollution as well as natural causes.
“Hikkaduwa’s once spectacular coral reef has been batter