COLOMBO, 30 September 2016: The inaugural Asia Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference (AHTIC) will be organised by Bench Events in Colombo, 27 to 29 November.
The event, hosted at Hilton Colombo, will focus on tourism related investment opportunities, not only in Sri Lanka, but also in developing markets across the region.
Tourism insiders believe there has never been a better time to explore investment in Sri Lanka.
The World Travel & Tourism Council forecasts Sri Lanka’s travel and tourism GDP will grow 6.3% year-on-year over the coming decade and by 2026 the industry will be worth LKR130 billion to the country’s economy.
Sri Lanka should record 2 million visitors this year, and the government anticipates a doubling that figure by 2020.
In the words of one senior travel executive: “It’s pretty much a blank canvas to create a new and fresh product.”
New developments face challenges and the Sri Lankan government has set securing an efficient investment model as a top priority, following some high profile investments in the past, including an airport, that went wrong.
The gathering of international investors, business leaders, government ministers and officials will share information and intelligence during the three-day conference in November.
One of the hot topics will be discussion of a Dusit Thani tourism project, as a case study. It involves eight acres of beach-front land, within a 90-minute drive of an international airport and is described as Sri Lanka’s largest multi-purpose property development outside Colombo.
The Thai hotel and apartment operator, Dusit Thani, is investing in “Beachfront Balapitiya”, an apartment and hotel complex, due to get underway in January 2017.
Investors in the resort’s apartments are being attracted by a guaranteed 6% net returns for five years, paid quarterly in USD dollars; freehold titles for owners, as well as substantial capital gains potential of around 30%. It is the only five-star beach-front property available to foreign investors, with 480 metres of private beach.
Indola Group director Paul Dwyer said: “The apartments are an investment. As such, unit holders lease back to Dusit Thani and earn a rental income. Their freehold title means that the apartment is theirs and they can resell if they want. The returns come as a result of Dusit running the property successfully as a hotel.”
The project has access to four beaches on Sri Lanka’s west coast, uninterrupted by an existing railway and highway. The building of the southern and the airport expressways will also add value to the properties.
The resort will be made up of 120 apartments, with the first phase – two of an eventual four towers – due to be completed in December 2018.
Dusit Thani is considering further developments in Sri Lanka, but it wants to see an easier visa system allowing longer stays.
It is urging the government to encourage complementary businesses that focus on leisure, such as sports and shopping, so people are more likely to make return trips, even in the low season during the European summer.
Dusit International, Development vice president, Rustom Vickers will speak at AHTIC at the Hilton Colombo venue, 27 to 29 November.
Bench Events managing director, Matthew Weihs, said: “Dusit’s Sri Lanka case study will provide one of many substantial opportunities throughout the conference to scrutinise the market and to exchange ideas on how best business and government can work together to make the most of Sri Lanka’s fantastic tourism assets.”