By Nishel Fernando
Jetwing Group Chairman Hiran Cooray recently urged the Colombo city hoteliers to be united to increase the minimum hotel room rates in Colombo, as the room rates were getting depressed.
Addressing a press conference in Dambulla, last week, Cooray admitted that he was not in much favour of the government regulations.
“We don’t need the government to come and set the prices. It’s needed because the Colombo hoteliers are not united.
We, hoteliers, must have the confidence to say that this hotel worth this much and please pay this price. That’s how it should be and we should create the demand for the city,” he said.
He pointed out that the Colombo hoteliers are too much focused on occupancy, rather than revenue, which has made it impossible to get a good return on investment (ROI).
“We have invested so such money; if you sell a room at US $ 100, you are never going to get the ROI,” he said.
Cooray pointed out that the room rates of global hotel brands present in Colombo, which sometimes go down to US $ 75 per night, could have a psychological effect on the tourists who plan to visit Sri Lanka for the first time.
“A room of the top international brand present in Colombo is selling at US $ 75, while Jetwing Vil Uyana is selling at US $ 400. If you don’t know the country, you will be confused as a person who’s travelling to Sri Lanka.
We always judge the hotel prices based on the capital. If there’s no demand for capital, there’s no demand for elsewhere,” he said.
Cooray stressed that Colombo’s room rates must be raised along with their standards.
The gazette for minimum room rates scheme for five-star hotels in Colombo had expired on March 31, 2018. The Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry is expected to make a final decision on renewing the gazette by end of this year, after consulting the industry stakeholders.
Cooray expressed displeasure over the current room rates of Jetwing Colombo 7, the first hotel of the brand, though he was satisfied with the occupancy.
He noted that Jetwing Colombo 7, which was launched early last year, is yet to break even.
Cooray is expected to step down from the day-to-day operations of Jetwing Hotels and Jetwing Travels to focus on asset management, as Jetwing has set its eyes to expand into Southeast Asia— Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, in three to four years’ time.
“We are seriously looking at it. In fact, as a result, I have moved away from the day-to-day operations to an asset management role. That’s why Shiromal Cooray will be the Chairperson of both Jetwing Hotels and Jetwing Travels. I will look at expanding and how the assets can be grown, both within Sri Lanka and outside Sri Lanka,” he said.
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