Laugfs Gas PLC is making significant investments in the tourist sector and has identified what its chairman called "the glaring gap in the 3-Star and 4-Star markets at reasonable prices." It plans to have three hotels in this category operational in the next two to three years.
Construction of Laugfs’ first hotel in Chilaw has already begun and completion of the luxury 88-room property on 18 acres of land with both the lagoon and beach frontage is nearing completion.
Laugfs has also acquired 15 acres at Waskaduwa in the Kalutara District last February and this property which has one of the longest beach frontages in the area which is seen as a distinct advantage for a new hotel project.
Laugfs said in its annual report that this too will be another luxury hotel with space reserved for a longer term project of building luxury villas.
The company has subsequently acquired another 15-acre block for a 4-Star resort in Passikudah along the Eastern Coast and both these hotels are expected to be completed by 2014 in time for the winter season.
"Laugfs will continue to look for new opportunities to expand," the report said.
During the year ended March 31, 2012, the company has lost Rs.7 million on account of their acquisitions being handed over to the new owners in September during the off season for tourism.
The company has placed a total value of Rs.814.3 million including pre-project expenditure for the Waskaduwa hotel and the capital work in progress of the Chilaw hotel under construction.
It has allocated Rs.500 million of the cash raised by its Initial Public Offering last year for its investments in the leisure segment and 27.8% of these funds had been incurred as construction cost, the report said.
Discussing future plans and the outlook in the tourism, the Laugfs report said that there was rapid growth in the emerging tourism markets in Asia such as China, Japan and India and the prospects for the industry looks bright despite slow growth of the European market due to the debt crisis etc.
"However as a mitigating factor, the company has plans to enter into the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events) market and also to strengthen the local tourism sector. The company is looking into setting up hotels in the Cultural Triangle and in other areas in order to cater to the traveling foreign and local tourists," the report said.
Laugfs Managing Director, U.K. Tilak de Silva says their Chilaw property has a unique location between the sea and the lagoon while the Waskaduwa hotel will be focused around the southern beach which was attractive even during the height of the war against terrorism.
The Passikudah hotel, in addition to the attractions of the East Coast beaches will have the advantage of being close to heritage sites in the North Central Province, he said.
Laugfs Chairman, W.K.H. Wegapitiya said that both the public and private sectors were looking together to promote Sri Lanka’s diverse array of tourism attractions with the public sector focused on infrastructure while the private sector will contribute to product development in hotel room inventory and leisure initiatives like golf courses, theme parks and shopping centres. He said that this may be quite comprehensive.