Heralding a boost to Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, President Maithripala Sirisena last week declared open ‘Jetwing Jaffna’, a 55-room star class hotel which stands tall in the heart of the city on the ‘Clock Tower Road’. The hotel, consisting of 8 floors and a basement, boasts of an air-conditioned restaurant on its second level that could accommodate over 100 guests and a roof top sky lounge from where guests could have a bird’s eye view of the fast developing city, from the Kilali Lagoon in the east to the islands in the west and host of other buildings of religious and cultural significance.

“Marshaling investment of over one billion rupees for Jaffna is a commendable achievement by the Jetwing Hotels, MMBL –Pathfinder Group, Regency Teas and several others, who had placed their confidence in the project. Among the institutional investors for the project is Leon Holdings, headed by a Sri Lankan expatriate hailing from Jaffna, who is a partner of a successful business venture in Europe. The project has also succeeded in providing employment for over 80 youths from Jaffna, who were provided with training in hospitality industry by Jetwing Hotels,” the hotel said in a statement.

The statement noted that it has been a long and arduous journey for Yarl Hotels (Pvt.) Ltd. to witness the successful culmination of the project. The land on which the hotel was constructed had been purchased in 1975 by late Deshamanya N. U. Jayawardena, the first Sri Lankan Governor of the Central Bank and entrepreneur, who realized the potential of Jaffna over 40 years ago! Jetwing Hotels and MMBL-Pathfinder Group took the policy decision to go ahead with the project in July 2010 and the former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne laid the foundation stone for the hotel in February 2012.

Speaking at the event Minister John Amaratunga said that there were others interested in investing in Jaffna and that the Ministry of Tourism Development was planning to open a hotel school in the peninsula.

“Despite initial difficulties we faced, I was convinced that Jaffna was ready for a modern hotel and youth in the peninsula would be eager to choose hospitality industry as a career option,” said Chairman Jetwing Hotels Hiran Cooray.

At the event, Northern Province Governor Reginald Cooray invited the Tamil Diaspora to return to Sri Lanka and make use of the investment opportunities in the Northern Province.