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Modernized Colombo Racecourse open for public

Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa attended the Opening Ceremony of the renovated Colombo Racecourse on 20th October 2012. Hon Minister of Economic Development Hon Basil Rajapaksa graced the event as the chief guest.

Hon Minister, Basil Rajapaksa ceremonially declared open the mini stand and unveiled a plaque. Thereafter the Secretary Defence joined in to inspect the newly established facilities.

The old race course, once a land mark site in Colombo had been neglected for a long time. First officially opened for race horsing in 1893 it was considered the best in terms of design, facilities, and size in the East. In 1922 it became the first race course in the East to be fixed with a Totalisator, a tremendous technological achievement of that time.

Later on during World War II a temporary airfield was constructed at the Colombo Racecourse by the Royal Air Force (RAF). The Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy was also based at the Colombo racecourse. Thereafter Sri Lanka Air Force used the discarded racecourse grounds for landing transport helicopters and the Sri Lanka Army has used the racecourse buildings as a temporary garrison from time to time furthermore some of the buildings were used by University Of Colombo.

With time it lost its past glory with only state functions and ceremonies were held from time to time. Gradually the place was neglected and it became an eyesore in the Colombo’s changing skyline. This 27 acre prime land in Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo had been abandoned for nearly half a century.

This project is a brainchild of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Under the Colombo modernization and beatification project the renovation the Race Course was taken up and under the perview of Secretary Defence and Urban Development Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa plans were draw up and the Urban Development Authority along with the Sri Lanka Army was entrusted with the work. Thus the modernization of the old Colonial relic became a reality. Army’s 6th Engineer Services Regiment and Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau completed the project while preserving the original architectural features. The racecourse was renovated under phase five of Independent Avenue development project. The renovated was carried out with a cost of 125 million rupees and no doubt it would be a centre tourist attraction of Colombo.

Completed with retaining its historic importance and architectural uniqueness, the new refurbished Race Course mini stand is comprised of a pavilion, restaurants, a stationary shop, dress boutiques, sports shops, and handy crafts and gifts shops.

The race track has been converted into an international rugby ground and the Grand stand have also been completed. This will be the main rugby venue with facilities conforming to international standards in the island. Minister Basil Rajapaksa also inspected the rugby ground and the renovating grand stand along with Secretary Defence.

A dazzling musical entertainment programme was also held last evening. The glamorous event mesmerized the large crowd which had thronged the venue to marvel and enjoy the new facilities at the old land mark location. A number of renowned Sri Lankan artists performed the show.

Distinguished guests including Hon Ministers, members of the Parliament, High Commissioners and Ambassadors, Government Officials, Director General of the Media Center for National Security, Chairperson of MOD SVU Mrs. Ioma Rajapaksa, Chief of Defence Staff, the three-forces Commanders, Inspector General of Police, Director of civil Defence Force, officials of Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, chairmen of leading companies, well-known artists, sports personalities, media personnel, Senior military officers and a large number of people were present at the occasion.

Source: http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=Modernized_Colombo_Racecourse_open_for_public_20121021_02

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Sri Lanka Travel News

 

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Diva China to build Five Star hotel in Sri Lanka

Diva Investment and Management Group of China is to build a 300 room five star hotel in Sri Lanka. The company is also looking at acquiring a four or Five Star hotel which is now in operation in a bid to fast track their operations in Sri Lanka.

Zhang Zhi Li, Chairman of the Group with President,   FCCISL, Kumara Mallimarachchi, Secretary General FCCISL, Nalin Atigalle and other members in Colombo. Picture by Saliya Rupaisnghe

Zhang Zhi Li, Chairman of the Group, China speaking to Daily News Business said that he is now in Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission and he is bullish about Sri Lanka.“The country after the war and with political stability is turning to be an investment paradise and I am keen to do large scale business in the island,” he said. The Chairman has also visited the Kalpitiya Integrated Tourism Development Zone during his visit. He said that he operates one of the largest Travel Agencies in China and he is also keen to promote Sri Lanka as a destination for Chinese Tourists. “We see great potential in promoting Sri Lanka to Chinese religious and leisure sectors,” he said.

Zhi Li said he is also looking at investing in large scale real estate development projects. “What I am looking at is to build a large town ship development project which would offer over 300 housing units,” he said.

He said with the rising energy costs, ‘Green Energy’ would be in demand and he is looking at making inroads in this area as well. “I am looking at setting us a factory to build solar panels in Sri Lanka for both the local and international market,” he said.

The other industry Diva Investment and Management Group is in the garbage recycling sector. “We will also explore the possibility of generating electricity from garbage,” he said.

Zhi Li thanked the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCISL) for initiating this investment opportunity in Sri Lanka.

Source: http://www.dailynews.lk/2012/10/10/bus01.asp

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Sri Lanka Travel News

 

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Sri Lanka tourism needs 22,500 more rooms

Sri Lanka’s lucrative tourism industry would require an addition of 22,500 rooms during the next five years to achieve the government’s target of attracting 2.5 million tourists by the year 2016; a recent research report has projected.  This report published by IIFL Institutional Equities states that therefore the future growth in tourism will hinge on development of infrastructure and accommodation capacity.

“In 2011, the country had around 14,653 graded rooms (total current capacity is around 21,000), of which Colombo accounted for 5,659 rooms. Hence, incumbent hoteliers would benefit from a spike in tourist arrivals in the short to medium term; these hoteliers should see strong margin expansion,” the report noted.

It pointed out that against this backdrop, a number of foreign hotel chains, existing hoteliers and companies have aggressively started to look for new hotel ventures but that new capacity would take at least 24-36 months to come on stream.
Stating that opportunities in the sector outweigh the challenges, IIFL’s country update on Sri Lanka tourism said the domestic hotels and tourism industry are set for buoyant growth.

The government expects nearly one million visitors in 2012. The sharp growth in tourist arrivals in Cambodia and Vietnam after the end of the conflict is an indicator to the potential for post-war Sri Lanka.

“Given the growing interest in the hotel industry, we believe the sector is set for buoyant growth underpinned by increased tourist influx and capacity expansion. Until winter 2009, hotel occupancy levels were low; occupancy rates in city hotels averaged around 50% compared with 40% in resorts. A room in a 5-star hotel was typically available for US$60 per night as against US$35 per night for a resort room. Currently, occupancy levels in city hotels have increased to an average 70% and occupancy levels in resorts have also increased to 65%. Average room rates (ARR) have doubled since 2009; a room in a 5-star hotel in Colombo city is currently at US$130 per night (minimum rate of US$120) and that in a 4-star hotel is at US$90 per night,” the report stated.
Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals in June were at 65,245 (up 21.6% YoY). As of YTD June, tourist arrivals have increased 18.7% to 452,867.

Source: http://www.nation.lk/edition/biz-news/item/8493-sri-lanka-tourism-needs-22500-more-rooms.html

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Sri Lanka Travel News

 

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