Sri Lanka raises hotel rates amid bomb attacks: officials

Jan 2, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s luxury hotels raised their rates on Wednesday despite an escalating ethnic civil war that triggered a 20 percent drop in tourists. The Yala National Park was shut for 10 weeks after seven soldiers were killed in a rebel attack on the popular tourist destination, home to leopards, elephants and migratory birds, officials said. Colombo’s 20 city hotels increased their minimum room rates to 105 dollars from 70 dollars to boost revenues and raise staff wages, said Shanthi Kumar of the Colombo City Hotels Association.

The drop in tourism is “of concern but our staff are finding it hard to keep up with the rising cost of living and we need to raise their wages and increase our revenues,” said Kumar.

The room rate rise comes as the tropical island’s civil war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1972 intensifies.

On Wednesday, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels set off a powerful roadside bomb in the Sri Lankan capital, killing at least five people and wounding 26.

The powerful Claymore mine — a fragmentation bomb packed with ball bearings — targeted an army bus transporting wounded soldiers but hospital officia