Global hotel giant Marriott International’s President and CEO on Saturday described Sri Lanka’s prospects to succeed in tourism as ‘hot’, the country as beautiful with warm people and infrastructure shaping up as well.
“I would say Sri Lanka is ‘hot’ as a tourist destination as well as the potential for the tourism industry to grow,” Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson told the Daily FT in a brief yet exclusive interaction amidst a whistle-stop tour to Sri Lanka over the weekend.
“Sri Lanka has the friendliest people, who are very warm. During the morning walk I had in Galle, I personally experienced it and was very touched,” said Sorenson, who stayed at the Amangalla resort before driving out to see the progress of Marriott’s first resort with 200 rooms in Weligama in partnership with East West Properties Plc.
Sorenson was accompanied by Marriott International’s Hong Kong based Asia Pacific President and Managing Director Simon Cooper and Asia Pacific COO Donald J. Cleary as well as senior officials from India.
“Sri Lanka is a richly diversified tourist destination and this beautiful proposition is being further enhanced by new infrastructure. This is very encouraging,” said Sorenson, who also paid a courtesy call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday in addition to flying over to inspect prospective new sites for additional hotels over the weekend. Areas visited include Tangalle, Pottuvil, Hatton, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandalama.
“Greater promotion of the excellent tourist destination, thereby boosting its visibility globally, will provide the best impetus to the tourism industry and via it, to the economy,” added the Marriott boss, whose broad portfolio of hotels and resorts includes Bulgari Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz Carlton.
Marriott International currently operates over 3,700 hotels in over 73 countries and territories around the globe.
In Sri Lanka, Weligama Marriott Resort and Spa will be the tallest resort in the country. So far, construction has progressed to the sixth storey and will be completed for its opening in end 2014 at a cost of $ 36 million.
The resort is being built according to Marriott International’s five star brand standards, with a beach frontage of 115 metres on the Galle-Matara road in the south-east of the country.
With some 640 square metres of flexible ballroom space, the hotel should prove to be extremely popular in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) market, while those travelling to Weligama Marriott Resort and Spa on holiday will be able to take full advantage of the wide leisure offerings at the hotel, which include three restaurants, a pool with a pool bar, spa, fitness centre and a beautiful stretch of beach.