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India’s Oberoi hotels group keen to return to Sri Lanka
ECONOMYNEXT - India’s Oberoi hotels group wants to return to Sri Lanka and is interested in partnering with owners of island properties that are well located, a senior company official said.
“Anyone wants to speak to us of great locations they have, we would love to partner with them,” Kapil Chopra, President of The Oberoi Group told a tourism forum in Colombo.
“We’re open to equity partnerships, management contracts, we’re open to buying out owners,” he said.
While historically the Oberoi group has taken equity stakes in hotels they operate, it is also happy to do pure management contracts, Chopra said.
The Oberoi group built a hotel in Colombo in the 1970s but subsequently quit the island in the middle of an ethnic conflict whose end in 2009 led to a boom in arrivals.
Chopra said Sri Lanka has “room for growth” having received almost 1.8 million tourists in 2015 compared with Thailand’s 25 million and India’s seven million.
Almost a quarter of visitors were staying for a week or two “which means a good length of stay,” he told the Tourism, Hotel Investment & Networking Conference (THINC) organised by HVS, a hospitality consulting firm.
“And real estate valuations (in Sri Lanka) are a fraction of what they are in India. These are three things that make it a very attractive market for us.”
For the Oberoi group location of hotels was critical.
“We want each one of our hotels to be unique – we’re a luxury operator. We cannot compromise on location because we can’t compromise on the overall experience.”