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Lanka should not ‘over price’

ITB_meeting people

ITB Berlin

The industry stakeholders happy with the outcome of the ITB, said that their presence was highly rewarding. They found new partners, while new comers too got an insight to the global leisure industry.

The Sri Lankan stand though some what crowded due to last minute entries, was well designed by the Sri Lankan embassy and the adjoining SriLankan airlines stand along with Aitkin Spence and John Keells stands were a hive of activity with business discussions.

Veteran and trend setting entrepreneur, Chandra Wickramasinghe of Culture Club, Maalu Maalu Maalu and Connaissance fame said, “thanks to peace, we are now doing great and this trend would linger on for a long time.”

He also said that the new Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), would bring in more business to his famous Maalu Maalu, Eastern tourism as well as for the deep South. “With the super road network, one could get to Pasikudah from MRIA in just three hours.”

Commenting on new players entering the industry, he said that it was highly welcome, but reiterated that they should maintain high standards in their hotels or the industry would suffer.

Wasantha Leelananda

Wasantha Leelananda

Executive Vice President Head Destination Management Sector, John Keells Wasantha Leelananda, said that the group would be consolidating on their properties in Sri Lanka this year, rather than venturing outside the country. “There was enough ‘good’ business here,” he said.

He said that the Southern Highway was a welcome move for the industry and the superior road network also helped tourism.

He however cautioned the industry against the high rates of hotels and said that it would definitely have a negative long term impact on the industry.

“Compare the region they are selling low,” he said.

“This may be the reason that Sri Lanka never saw a single charter operation during last winter,” he said. Questioned as to how he justified the high rates in Singapore, he said that it was the attraction such as the parks, gambling, shopping and night life that attracted tourists,” he added.

He also cautioned against high prices as against the low service offered by some hotels. “This is a very bad scenario,” he added. Anura Lokuhetty, another veteran hotelier cautioned and said that, “One must remember that ‘Sri Lanka is not the only ‘girl’ on the beach!” Another veteran in the industrialist Prema Cooray, said that the idea mooted by Ambassador Sarath Kongahage for Sri Lanka to be the ‘host country’ of the ITB, similar to Indonesia at this ITB, is a wonderful idea and should be perused by both the government and the private sector.

“The benefits would be tremendous.”

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