Business Times

Yala gets first hotel proposal outside buffer zone

Government plans are underway to open up more tourism zones on the South, East and West coasts of the country with Yala already under the keen eye of at least one hotelier. The state has identified approximately 30 acres in Silawattura, 30-40 acres in Talaimannar, 60 acres in Vakarai and 40 acres in Yala as areas suitable for tourism development.

Sri Lanka Tourism Authority Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa said that while the government does not intend on relocating people for development purposes they remain committed towards the environment.
In this respect, the lands beyond those adjoining the buffer zones will be utilized for development in Yala where about 40 acres will be allocated from 1500 acres.

This is carried out with the intention of ensuring the wild is not affected that surrounds the vicinity.
At least one company has already submitted a proposal for the construction of a hotel in the area the necessary guidelines will be required to follow prior to granting approval, Mr. Godahewa said.
The submission of the proposal for the construction of the hotel was put forward last month with the intention of also conserving the environment.

Further, the proposed investment is learnt to be carried out bearing in mind the need for minimal damage to the environment and the wildlife. In this respect, it is learnt the investor is looking at opening up a hotel of villa type with construction work to get underway in the area without felling trees either.

He noted this process will commence within the course f this year where lands of 5 acre blocks will be provided from the allocated 40 acres. The requirements for prospective investors in the area involve having the necessary financial commitment and the ability to work with sensitivity towards the environment and the wildlife, he said.

Mr. Godahewa noted that the government does not believe in the bidding process as the price is fixed and in this regard will look at the best proposal to be awarded with payments to be made upfront and no room for “staggered payments.”

Currently the government has deployed surveying to be carried out on the relevant zones in order to demarcate state-owned lands in these areas, upon completion of which the Sri Lanka Tourism Authority will then invite proposals from prospective investors. Each product is expected to cater to the high end clientele that was not tapped on previously, an official said.

In this respect, the establishment of boutique hotels, luxury and themed ventures will be attracted for investment purposes that will require a US$500-600 per night spend. At present 5000 acres in Kalpitiya and 500 acres in Kuchchaveli and 100 acres in Pasikudah have been allocated for development and this model is likely to be used in the other new areas as well.

Within these zones the government will be involved in the provision of required infrastructure facilities some of which will have to be borne by the private sector, Mr. Godahewa pointed out.

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