Chaudhary Group has one foot in Lanka hotel sector

KATHMANDU: Sri Lanka’s Jetwing leisure group is expanding abroad and building links with foreign partners, including Nepal’s Chaudhary conglomerate which is also investing in the island, a top Sri Lankan official said.

Chaudhary Group, through its unit Cinnovation, has already bought a 50 per cent stake in Royal Heritage Hotel, which owns the Jetwing nature reserve ‘Vil Uyana’ and a 49 per cent stake in Seashells Hotel, when Sri Lanka’s Hayleys group exited last month, Sri Lankan Business online news reports.

Chaudhary Group owns hotels in Nepal and other areas. “We are looking at managing some of Nepal hotels,” Jetwing group director Shiromal Cooray said.

The Nepali conglomerate — headed by businessman Binod Chaudhary — also has interests in power generation and food and beverages. Cinnovation has a presence in Sri Lanka through Taj Asia, which controls Colombo’s Taj Samudra hotel. Taj Asia is a

joint venture between Cinnovation and India’s Tata connected Taj hotel division.

Jetwing is also starting the management of Indochina Hotel in Hanoi with Vietnamese partners. It has also been chasing an Indian hotel. But with the end of a 30-year war in Sri Lanka prospects at home are also looking up.

The mainstay of Sri Lanka’s leisure sector is Western European tourists. In June, tourist arrivals increased eight per cent. Britain has already relaxed the travel advisory to some parts of the war-torn island, according to the news report. “I am sure this winter will be excellent,” says Cooray. “Arrivals have increased. Our foreign partners are saying the bookings are better.”

Sril Lanka and Nepal are planning to restart direct air connection between Kathmandu and Colombo soon. The direct air link is expected to give a boost to the Nepali tourism sector as a majority of the Sri Lankans are Buddhists and love to visit Nepal — especially Lumbini — the birth-place of Lord Buddha.

Sri Lanka’s economic growth has been uneven due to adverse shocks like the decades-long ethnic conflict. However, the relatively strong growth record has proved inadequate in substantially reducing poverty beyond the urban areas. The two South Asian countries — both of whom have come out of political disturbances — are on the path to economic recovery.