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Huge revenue loss if reservations cancelled
City Hotels want government to rescind decision

The Colombo City Hotels Association is eagerly awaiting for a favourable response from the Tourism Ministry hoping that the Defence authorities would permit them at least to hold the functions for which they have already accepted bookings during the SAARC Summit scheduled to be held in Colombo from July 27 – August 03.

"Government has warned us against accepting any kind of booking, meaning, weddings banquets, corporate functions or even selling rooms or operating the food and beverage outlets during this period ," a disgruntled hotelier said adding that the hotels would be virtually deserted .

He said that security is of paramount importance and we know that there are LTTE cadres who have infiltrated the city and waiting to cause mayhem. But the security establishment shouldn’t take drastic steps such as this, which would badly affect an industry already suffering. They should have thought of it much earlier and planned accordingly and this is a bolt out of the blue he added.

A key member of the Association who wished to remain anonymous said the Association last week requested the Tourism Ministry Secretary K.A.D. George Micheal to make a request on their behalf to the defence authorities to rescind the defence ministry decision that no bookings could be held in hotels where the delegates attending the `15 th SAARC summit would be staying. He said still there was no response from the Tourism Ministry Secretary nor any other responsible official.

However Micheal was out of the country and was not available for comment.

According to President of the Association M.Shanthikumar at least six hotels in the metropolis are badly affected if the said directive is implemented and, the loss of revenue for these hotels during this period would amount to about Rs 75 million.

"Its like falling from the frying pan to the fire" another hotelier said. The occupancy levels are gradually dropping and the hotels were not performing well due to the drop in tourist arrivals. To make it worse, country’s security situation has discouraged many of our clients particularly going out for dinner thus causing a drastic drop in our food and beverage sales he pointed out.

In such a scenario it was the weddings and corporate functions that generated some revenue to the hotels at a time when they were experiencing a drop in arrivals. But with the government clamp down on functions in certain hotels they will be badly off he said.

During the said period most of the city hotels have been heavily booked for weddings he added.

When asked whether the Government has made any indication that it would compensate for the losses suffered by the particular hotels as a result of its directive the affected hoteliers said already the Tourism Ministry has said that the government would not be in a position to do so.

When contacted a senior defence official accepting that there is a problem faced by the hoteliers due to this decision said that the government cannot leave any room for the terrorists to strike.

"They are waiting for the slightest opportunity and what would be the impact on country’s tourism industry if one of the delegates attending the SAARC Summit is harmed by the Tigers he queried.

Ina situation like this all of us have to make sacrifices he pointed out.


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