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SL needs stable tourist and investor-friendly policies to attract big names: Stakeholder

24 Jun 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Unveiling a special 60th anniversary stamp. Managing Director Gerard Ondaatje is seen on the right



  • By Ishan Sheriffdeen

Hotels across the island have performed extremely well to date this year with increasing tourist arrivals and March profits for instance have almost doubled. However, stakeholders have put the continuity of this trend in doubt as they are uncertain what impact the outcome of polls scheduled for the latter part of this year will have on the industry’s revival efforts.
“One government to another or one tenure to another, there is a flip-flop and that badly affects particularly a sensitive industry such as tourism.  We need stable tourist-friendly and investor-friendly policies to attract the big names in the international tourism and leisure sector,” said Mercantile Investments and Finance PLC Managing Director Gerard Ondaatje speaking to Mirror Business on the sidelines of a media conference held recently to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary. 

The decision by the country’s alcohol and tobacco control agency to scrap the ‘Happy Hour’ could be cited as the latest policy blunder by authorities. It has upset the liquor guys and particularly the international hotel brands operating in Sri Lanka, as it’s a concept found all over the world, not just here.  
Such decisions should be done away with, he stressed. 
Mercantile Investments, which currently has five hotels operating in the country, including Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya, Nilaveli Beach Hotel, Tangeriene Beach Hotel, Royal Palm Beach Hotel and Fairview Hotel, is also said to be looking at the potential of expanding its hotel chain within the country.

During the press conference, Mercantile Investments unveiled a special anniversary stamp that not only symbolises the company’s rich heritage but also its significant contributions to Sri Lanka’s financial landscape over the past six decades. The company also introduced a new collection of financial products to meet the diverse and evolving needs of its customers.
Commenting on the expansion of Mercantile Investments’ branch network, Ondaatje said the sixtieth branch will be opened soon and they may even reach out to locations other than Sri Lanka, like Bangladesh, the Maldives or parts of India in the future.