Approval has been granted for 11 more five-star hotels within Colombo city.
Economic Affairs Minister Basil Rajapaksa told the Sunday Times that among the locations selected for the hotels are those close to the Regal theatre in Fort and in Kollupitiya, while the Cargills building will be turned into a hotel cum shopping mall.
He said that, under the plan, they hope to invite leading international hotels to set up in close proximity to one another, where tourists will have easy access to the hotels.
“This will help raise Sri Lanka’s image to attract more tourists. If we do not attract investments right now, it is possible that investors will be drawn away to other countries”, he said.
In addition, approval has already been granted for two five-star hotels in Gampaha, one in Negombo, four in Beruwala, two in Jaffna, seven each in Batticaloa and Trincomalee, and one in Nuwara Eliya.
It is also hoped to create a tourist zone linking Katunayake, Gampaha and Negombo, he added.
He said that, in addition, they also encourage more hotel projects in other parts of the country which would help attract tourists as well as create employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, the UDA has already received applications from two of the biggest companies in the hotel sector to put up 15 hotels in various parts of the country.
Sri Lanka among top six destinations for world travelers 2012
The National Geographic Traveller magazine’s selection of Sri Lanka as being among its top six destinations for world travelers in 2012, comes at a time when top hotel chains such as Starwood, Marriot and Shangri-La are setting up hotels in the country.
“This is a proud achievement for Sri Lanka and augurs well in its bid to reach 2.5 million tourists by 2016,” a spokesman for Sri Lanka Tourism said.
The prestigious magazine, in its November-December issue lauded the island nation’s heritage sites, wildlife, lush landscapes and pristine beaches. “Sri Lanka means resplendent isle, and the natural charm of this pear-shaped island in the Indian Ocean, that nearly kisses the southeast tip of India, are indeed splendid….Sri Lanka's hill country features stunning scenery, tea plantations and ancient Buddhist temples,” it said, adding that, “Today peace prevails.”