"Generally what the country is targeting is volume. Initially it might be good to create awareness. Long term, I think we must go for a mix of 60% volume and 40% of yield. All the new properties that are coming up are high-end hotels and boutiques; but customers are not geared for that. The customer is actually a low-end, budget conscious traveller. So it might be better for us to have a mix to maintain the quality of the industry", opined Weerakone.
Weerakone also emphasized the fact that tourism needs to be a matured product to represent the industry as a country in world tourism fairs stressing that he was certain that it would take a considerable time. "If we can bring an established output into one forum and bring it to a level where the product is much matured, we can represent the country at world tourism fairs. That would take a considerable time with the development of infrastructure and major international players coming into the market. Many international brands are queuing up to be here.
Once they are all here, I am sure the maturation of the product will be much better", Weerakone said. With their new conference facility, Weerakone believes that Heritance Kandalama can offer many opportunities for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibition) tourism in years to come. This massive 3,200 square foot 17 foot high conference facility which can easily host up to 350 guests was built up with the right timing and correct vision said Weerakone. "We had this conference facility on our cards but we could not afford it. There were ups and downs in the economy with the civil war situation and we were unable to invest anymore. We waited till the right time and now we have a golden opportunity to maximize our operations over the MICE segment, which is nearly 10% of the 2.5 million tourist target in 2016", said Weerakone.