ECONOMYNEXT- John Keells Holdings, which operates Sri Lanka’s largest leisure business Cinnamon, said its hotels have as much demand in the 2019 winter season as last year due to discounts, after the Easter Sunday bombings hit tourists’ confidence on the country.
“In the aftermath of the attacks, the significant dip witnessed in the tourist arrivals to the country has gradually witnessed an upward momentum, indicating signs of recovery,” Chairman Krishan Balendra told shareholders on Friday.
“We are encouraged that the forward bookings for the Sri Lankan hotels have witnessed an upward trend and we expect occupancy in the peak season to be in line with the previous year, albeit at a moderately lower room rate,” he said.
Cinnamon owns and manages 1,952 rooms across Sri Lanka, and the refurbished Bentota Beach will be reopened in December, adding another 133 rooms to the portfolio.
This represents 5.3 percent of all registered hotel rooms and 15.2 percent of star-classified hotel rooms in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry took a major blow following the April bombings.
Tourist arrivals fell 70.8 percent from a year earlier in May, but after other countries swiftly removed their travel advisories, arrivals recovered fast to a 27.2 percent drop in September.
The state’s Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau said the fall had further recovered to 20 percent in October, and a similar drop will be experienced in November and December.
Government projections are for arrivals to fall 17.4 percent to 1.9 million tourists in 2019, helped by growth in arrivals before the bombings.