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Shangri-La opens 300-room resort in Sri Lanka after delay

[COLOMBO] Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Asia opened its first resort in Sri Lanka's southern district of Hambantota where the country is considering creating a special economic zone for Chinese investors.

The 300-room Shangri-La's Hambantota Resort and Spa in 145 acres of beach-front land is the first of the two luxury property development projects in Sri Lanka that the Hong Kong listed group planned following the end of the country's 26-year war seven years ago.

Shangri-La is building another 500-room hotel in the capital Colombo near a planned US$1.4 billion Chinese luxury real estate project which is under construction and expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

The group initially planned to spend US$500 million on the Colombo project and the Hambantota resort but later the company said the cost had gone up by at least 10 per cent to US$550 million due to design changes. Government officials said the cost could be higher than US$550 million due to delays.

It originally expected to complete the first phase of Hambantota project in August 2013 and Colombo hotel was expected to open in early 2014.

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Lori Lincoln, director of corporate communications at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts told Reuters via email the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo would open in late 2017, she declined to give details on the company's total investments in Sri Lanka.

Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently manages 98 hotels around the world under the Shangri-La brand with a room inventory of over 40,000.

Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister John Amaratunga last week said the country's tourism industry was targeting 2.5 million visitors this year and revenues of US$3.5 billion.

Total arrivals hit a record high of 1.8 million in 2015, while revenue from Sri Lanka's leisure sector also peaked at US$2.43 billion last year.

Arrivals rose 11.6 per cent year-on-year in April, with the number of foreign visitors rising nearly every month since the nearly three-decade-long civil war ended in May, 2009.


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