India mega hotel investment signals Sri Lanka’s welcome to neighbor: minister
Nov 20, 2014 (EconomyNext) – A 300 million US dollar hotel and apartment project by India’s ITC Limited has shown that Sri Lanka is welcoming investments from her neighbor and not just China, investment promotions minister Lakshman Abeywardene said.
"There have been criticism that we are only welcoming investments from China, but this project shows that we also encouraging investment from India," minister Abeywardene said.
"It gives a strong signal to other Indian companies to also come here."
China has become a top lender to the government and state-connected companies are building container ports and hotels. Hong Kong based Shangri La hotels is also building another hotel next to the ITC’s high end property.
ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar said the project represented the fulfilling of a long-held personal dream.
"In the late 1970s I came here from Chennai to start some business," he said soon after breaking ground for the hotel.
"At the time there were a lot of restrictions on both sides so nothing came of it. But this project is now fulfilling one my dreams."
He said the naming of Sri Lanka as a ‘breakout nation’ by investment advisor Ruchir Sharma, encouragement by India’s government at its ‘highest levels to strengthen the bilateral relationship with investments’ and the welcome given by Sri Lankan authorities had helped persuade him to invest in the island.
Sri Lanka was also growing fast after the end of a war in 2009 and was expected to grow at 7.8 percent this year and may surpass China he said.
Initially ITC had planned to invest 140 million US dollars, but the project was expanded as confidence in Sri Lanka’s prospects grew, he said.