INDIA-BASED Taj Hotels and Resorts, which has been in Sri Lanka since 1983, is expanding its portfolio of three hotels and eyeing investment projects in the country's emerging north-east region.
The north-east region bore the brunt of a civil war between 1983 and 2009, but has been drawing many tourism investors since the end of the conflict.
“We are looking at existing properties or those under construction to offer (our) input on design,” said Rohit Khosla, area director for Sri Lanka, Taj Hotels and Resorts.
Khosla said the group is planning to focus on managing rather than owning new hotels, and aims to establish three properties in the north-east region with a total of 300 rooms in the first phase of expansion.
Currently the group has three hotels in Sri Lanka – the 300-room Taj Samudra in Colombo, the 162-room Vivanta by Taj at southern Bentota, and the 100-room Gateway Hotel, Airport Garden on the west coast.
Taj’s properties are being given a facelift following Sri Lanka's tourism boom, and ahead of the biennial Commonwealth Summit in Colombo to be held from November 15 to 17 and attended by 52 heads of state.
The refurbishment of Vivanta by Taj ended last year, while that of Taj Samudra and Gateway Hotel is scheduled to complete next month.
Khosla said the group is upbeat about the potential for tourism, which is rapidly growing.
“While traditional markets have suffered due to the eurozone crisis, emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle East have been the mainstay of the current growth. We are also seeing a slow but definite recovery from Europe,” he said, adding that the Commonwealth Summit was timely as “it helps to spread the word about the new, peaceful Sri Lanka”.