Keells in 'tea tourism' ventures
Tea subsidiaries of John Keells and Aitken Spence are among the
plantations companies planning to diversify into tourism, taking
advantage of prime mountainous locations and concessionary foreign
are already using some of their estate bungalows to cater to tourists,
mostly local, but have big plans to go up-market and put up entirely
new projects, some with the support of foreign investment.
managing director of Aitken Spence Plantation Managements, said
its Elpitiya Plantations subsidiary was looking at developing eco-tourism.
The company has already given out two estate bungalows in the Pundalu
Oya area and now wants to upgrade these properties to cater to more
there is a big shortage of hotel rooms," Fernando said. "We're
trying to develop estate bungalows into boutique hotel type ventures
and link it with some other tourist attractions in and around tea
gardens to make it a complete package."
Industry officials said the aim was to develop and promote 'tea
tourism', a product similar to 'wine tourism' in countries like
France, and exploit the international recognition for Ceylon tea.
The 'tea tourism'
concept aims to give visitors, especially connoisseurs or regular
tea drinkers, the opportunity to enjoy the experience of living
on a tea plantations and seeing how the leaf is plucked and manufactured
into black tea.
is already promoting the estate bungalows of its plantations subsidiaries
but has a bigger project in mind with the participation of foreign
investors. "We want to enhance the tea story and boost the
tea image of the country and provide good accommodation to visitors,"
said an official. "We want to develop 'experiential tourism'
- giving a good experience to tourists by arranging for them to
live in plantation bungalows.
connect the whole tea story to tourism - create a very exclusive
holiday experience. We want to develop a new product." RPCs
will have access to funds under the latest Asian Development Bank
plantations development project that provides about $30 million
in soft loans for a wide range of activities such as replanting,
infilling, diversification, and factory modernisation in the tea
and rubber sectors.
period is six years from 2003 and the RPCs have to submit strategic
business plans on how they intend to invest the money, said R.M.
Premadasa, project co-ordinator, Plantations Industries Ministry.
The project has a component for tourism under which RPCs can develop
tourism in the estate sector using estate bungalows, he said.
The move is
part of the effort by the RPCs to diversify away from the cultivation
and export of traditional crops and make use of their extensive
real estate holdings to generate additional revenue streams. RPCs
are known to have estate bungalows on locations with spectacular
views of mountains, forests and waterfalls.
is part of the concept of low volume/high yield "experiential
tourism", tourism of a unique nature, driven by personal desires
to satisfy individual ambitions and needs, that has seen a revival
in the last decade.