Global hospitality giant Best Western comes to Sri Lanka with investment project


From left, Nilantha Rupasinghe, General Manager, Prasantha Jayamaha, Glenn de Souza, Paul Suvodip, Best Western, Regional Manager, Asia and the Middle East, and Khalid Ragab, Director, Operations. Pic by, Ranjith Wimalasiri.

By Steve A. Morrell

The Best Western hotels chain, enjoying a global hospitality presence, will be launching a hotels project in Sri Lanka.

Executive Chairman, Best Western Elyon Colombo, Prasantha Jayamaha said Best Western is strong internationally. He said its current standing worldwide, is the basis of its prestige and reputation. Its international brand status, enhanced through its distinct service reputation, was a factor in increasing the influx of tourist traffic to Sri Lanka.

Best Western has 4000 plus hotels in worldwide locations; room strength was currently 325,000 globally.

Answering questions from the press he said training of personnel to fit various slots was on going and if there would be vacancies in the upper areas of job slots, such would initially be filled by personnel from abroad. But, he said, that would be a temporary solution. Eventually, those who qualify and show promise locally could fit into such management slots.

Best Western, Elyon Colombo would have 400 rooms. These were initial plans with further expansion in mind.

Best Western was founded in 1946 by M.K.Guertin, whose business expanded. By 1963 it had grown to 699 locations in the US, with 35,201 rooms.

Currently, Best Western is in Canada, The Caribbean, Australia, Bangladesh, other Asian countries and the Middle East. Approximately its numbers stand at around 209 resorts and hotels in 27 countries across the region.

The hotel chain currently has about 20 million loyalty card members. Jayamaha also mentioned partnership interests with other similar establishments.

Considering Best Western's US origins, the press questioned if the Sri Lanka tourist market would be open to the US as well. The question raised implied that the American tourist would need high-end entertainment if he was to leave half the world behind to come to Sri Lanka, with places like the Riviera and so on that he could visit.

Best Western’s Vice President, International Operations, Glenn de Souza, said each global section was exposed to such regional visitors. He agreed that US travelers did not need to travel to places like Sri Lanka leaving other locations behind. He said the world was a large place and there were others who would want to visit Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had to market itself, but the Best Western group had access to other parts of the world to lure visitors here.

He said Sri Lanka had much to offer and it would be just a matter of time before the tourist influx would grow in geometric progression.

Driven by strong interest from India, China, the Middle East, and Europe, international visitor arrivals have grown .Expectations that 2014 will have 1.5 million visitors are a possibility.

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