Negombo, showing a marked renaissance with the tourism revival in the country, recently saw Jetwing Hotels Ltd celebrate the re-opening of Jetwing Seashells Hotel re-branded as ‘Jetwing Sea’.
The cost of overhauling and refurbishing amounted to US $ 4 million and is the outcome of an investment of US $ 5 million between Jetwing Hotels and Zinc Journeys, a part of the Nepal-based Chaudhary Group, Nepal.
At the ceremony which drew many people and dignitaries like Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and External Affairs Minister G.L.Peiris, Minister of Economic Affairs, Hiran Cooray, Chairman, Jetwing Hotels Ltd traced the pioneering role Negombo has played about 40 years ago in this industry and paid tribute to his father, the late Herbert Cooray for the dominant part he played in the formative years of tourism in Sri Lanka.
He said that they are committed to provide the highest quality in everything they do. “We shall continue to strive, reach higher and bring you the best in service and standards that has become our very hallmark,” he noted.
Tilak De Zoysa, Chairman, Jetwing Zinc Journeys, said that they could start a journey to take them (these hotels) across the country and said that they would move into Kandy, Hambantota and Trincomalee.
Trevor Reckerman, Head of Marketing, Jetwing told the Business Times (BT) during the celebrations that the Jetwing group has 10 hotels in Sri Lanka and four of them are in Negombo. He said that they would be refurbishing and upgrading several of of these hotels spending several millions of dollars.
He said the group plans to set up hotels in Jaffna, Yala, Kalpitiya and also build a hotel in Colombo within the next 24 months.
Angie Samuel, Marketing Communications Manager, Jetwing Hotels told the BT that Sri Lanka’s travel trade improved by 46% in 2010 and out of that percentage Jetwing Group gained 56%. She said that their hotels were running at 90% occupancy level.
Meanwhile, Deva D Peter, Joint Managing Director, Golden Star Beach Hotel and President, Negombo Hoteliers Association told this reporter that Negombo would be vibrant in its approach towards catching up with the ongoing trend and said that this week (on January 18) they had a meeting with Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development and the Minister’s response towards improving Negombo’s travel outlook was very positive.
Mr Peter said that already the Hamilton Canal Development Project has started with Japanese funding and the dredging would be completed by March. He said that soon boating trips from Colombo through this canal would commence. He said that sea-planes in the Negombo Lagoon also would be a possibility as Mr Rajapaksa has shown positive response towards this though there has been massive protests by Negombo fishermen, against deepening of the lagoon for the purpose of landing sea-planes.
Almost all the hotels big and small are poised to take in the influx of tourists that are expected to arrive and they are being renovated and refurbished and due to this there is tremendous activity in Negombo.