Oct 12 (Gulf News) – On the back of falling inflation rate and rising tourism revenue, the World Bank has revised its forecast for the Sri Lankan economy. It is now expected to expand by 1.7 per cent in 2024, up from an earlier forecast of 1 per cent. Bolstered by an appreciation in its currency, improvement in foreign exchange reserves, and increase in remittances, the country is also poised for a better economic performance this year than earlier predicted.
However, leading the recovery this year has been a robust tourism sector. A surge in arrivals is expected to take the total number of foreign visitors in 2023 to two million. August saw more than 261 per cent year-on-year growth in the number of foreign tourist arrivals. India was the largest source market, making up 18.2 per cent as of July, while Russia, the UK, Germany and France together accounted for 35.8 per cent.
Better economic prospects led by an increase in trade activity, along with focused promotional campaigns and greater connectivity, are expected to further boost the tourism and hospitality sector, giving a fillip to business travel too.
It is against this backdrop that the Government of Sri Lanka is divesting its shares in Hotel Developers Lanka Limited, the holding company of Hilton Colombo, as part of its debt restructuring, offering a great opportunity for investors looking for an entry into the island nation’s tourism sector. The Sri Lankan Government launched the Request for Expression of Interest for the sale of its shares on October 10. It will remain open until November 9.
A prestigious asset
Hilton Colombo is an iconic five-star hotel with a 35-year operational track record, offering an extensive selection of popular facilities and highly frequented food and beverage outlets. Its prime location in the heart of the city boasts proximity to numerous landmarks such as the Presidential Secretariat, World Trade Centre, Old Dutch Hospital Entertainment Complex, Port City Financial District, Bally’s Casino and the proposed international gaming cluster, which will house two integrated gaming resorts, Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Centre, and One Galle Face Mall.
Considered the premier hospitality property in Colombo, the hotel is currently undergoing an extensive revitalisation, soon unveiling 367 rooms, 15 MICE spaces and 8 F&B facilities. One significant upside is the adjacent 1.9 acres land, which is connected to the main building via an overhead bridge, and which can be redeveloped, presenting a major opportunity to create a new landmark in a prime location.
With the hotel’s strong reputation and potential for future development, the acquisition presents a unique opportunity to secure a prestigious asset and also enter Sri Lanka’s booming hospitality industry.
“The purchase of Hilton Colombo represents a rare opportunity to capitalise on Sri Lanka’s resurgent tourism industry and strategically position oneself in the most sought-after locations in Colombo,” says Junrong Teo, Director of Colliers Asia, which is overseeing the divestiture, acting as transaction advisors alongside Platinum Advisors. “As Sri Lanka’s popularity as a travel destination continues to soar, investing in the Hilton Colombo means becoming a part of the country’s dynamic growth story and unlocking the potential for both immediate and long-term returns on investment.”