The Kuchchaveli Tourism Zone (KTZ) investors after meeting with Sri Lanka Tourist Board officials recently have agreed upon Rs 5 million per acre for a 99-year lease commitment, according to Treasury sources.
“This was agreed verbally, but they’re awaiting a written confirmation,” a Treasury source told the Business Times.
About a month ago they met President Mahinda Rajapaksa, requesting a respite and explaining their inability to meet the Rs. 20 million per acre cash payment. Earlier they were given land for less than Rs 50,000 per acre for a 30-year lease through a bidding process.
It is learnt that the President has informally instructed the Treasury to cut the price by half, but that too was a little over their budget. “The agreement which was decided was to pay the cash and start construction on the projects immediately and within a year to complete them. Already some (who have made headway into construction) say that they can open their hotels for the December season,” an investor told the Business Times.
The eastern region is being developed as a tourist destination, with an area of about 500 acres identified for tourism development in Kuchchaveli in the Trincomalee district. But industry analysts say that the government, seeing the potential has become 'greedy' and wants 'big' names.
"We were the first to want to start tourism projects here - that too during the height of the war. At the time no so-called big names came in and now they want them and deliberately eliminate us by slapping exorbitant prices which is not fair. Some of us explained this to the authorities,” the investor said. The land earmarked for projects bordering the beach is situated north of the popular Nilaveli beach and the Kuchchaveli resort is planned as a ‘Green Integrated Resort’, focusing on sustainable development.