Forward bookings in the tourism sector of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerate, John Keells Holdings (JKH), have fully recovered on a year on year basis according to JKH Deputy Chairman Gihan Gooray. These comments were made to news anchor Sri Jegarajah during a broadcast on CNBC Singapore. The comments come as a pleasant surprise to industry analysts who expected a tourism industry recovery to take much longer.
Sri Lanka’s tourism industry came to a grinding halt after the Easter Sunday terror attacks struck churches and five star hotels, including JKH’s leading city hotel the Cinnamon Grand.
For the June quarter, revenue was down almost 50% in JKH’s listed city hotel subsidiary Asian Hotels and Properties (AHPL). As of the end of August, year over year tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka are down approximately 20%.
JKH has made a nation leading US$1bn investment into the tourism sector in Sri Lanka with its Cinnamon Life development. The project includes an 800 room city hotel, residential and office towers, retail, and convention space. Parts of the Cinnamon Life development are scheduled to start coming online in 2020.
The JKH Deputy Chair said that the fundamentals of the Sri Lankan economy are in decent shape, and consumer sentiment has been relatively strong post the terror attacks.
On the upcoming elections he said that further clarity on policy and big ticket investments could be a catalyst for growth going forward.