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Sri Lanka hotels see weekend trippers, delayed weddings as Covid-19 curfews end

TRAVEL HOLIDAYS: Sri Lanka is almost back to normal with traffic on roads. With overnight curfews ending people are free to travel longer distance for holidays.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka hotels outside of Colombo has seen rising occupancy as curfews ended with the domestic spread of the disease controlled and housebound weekend trippers fanning out, while delayed weddings are also helping, officials said.

“I do not have the exact details but the occupancy rate of hotels out of Colombo are doing 60 to 70 percent during the weekend,” Sanath Ukwatte, the President of The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), and the Chairman of the Mount Lavinia Hotel Group said.

“But on weekdays there’s nothing much, we aren’t busy at all”.

Sri Lanka ended midnight curfews last week.

Some hotels are so full that deep discounts seen in previous off seasons are not found in the weekend, customers said.

Controlling Coronavirus

Until last month authorities also placed curfews on Sunday to stop weekend trips amid fears that the resident of capital Colombo, considered a high risk area with most Coronavirus cases detected, could spread it to other areas.

Up to 2020 hours on July 06, Sri Lanka has confirmed 2,076 Coronavirus patients with two new cases being confirmed in the previous 24 hours.

From April 30, no domestic cases had been detected outside of a cluster linked to a Navy base, who are all quarantined.

Sri Lanka is one of the most successful countries in the world in containing Coronavirus, after Vietnam, observers say.

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But without foreign tourists, the hotel sector is badly hit. Sri Lanka is planning to open the country for tourists from August, with Coronavirus tests but not mandatory quarantine.

May western countries are ending lockdowns and relaxing trave restrictions.

“Global tourism will recover rather quickly by the end of the year,” Mark Mobius, an emerging market investor told a webinar organized by Colombo-based John Keells Stock Brokers.

“You will see global tourism picking up quite remarkably. People are really fed up with lockdowns. They want to get out. They want to travel.”

Wedding Boost

Hotels in Sri Lanka are also getting business from weddings, some of which were delayed due to Covid-19 curfews.

Weddings in Sri Lanka are usually held on Thursday or Friday which are popular, Neketh or days for auspicious times.

“The hotels are operating somewhat and most of them are depending on the banquet events,” Kandy Hoteliers Association President Samantha Ratnayake, who represents the Amaya chain, said.

“There are 10 to 25 weddings happening in hotels so that’s good to keep the cash flows.

Hotels also have to cope with health guidelines, which have limited the number of guests per event.

“People who really want the weddings use different strategies such as some get 50 per cent of the guests in the morning and 50 per cent in the evening,” Ratnayake told EconomyNext.

“Anyway, weddings are very popular at the moment.”

But he sector is still hard hit.

Ratnayake said the operations are 10 to 15 per cent on average with average occupancy down especially on weekdays.

“Weekends are filled but otherwise we will have to depend on honeymooners and corporate clients,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Authority has announced relief packages for hotels, travel agents, guides and drivers who are badly hit. (Colombo/July06/2020)