With over 25,000 devotees expected to participate at the Bohra Global Convention, Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga yesterday lamented that Colombo was running short of rooms.
“I am of the view that we are running short of rooms for this large community that is coming to Sri Lanka,” he told journalists.
It was pointed out that over 3,000 rooms in 100 hotels from Negombo to Mt. Lavinia have already been booked for the convention. In addition, 200 apartments in Colombo have been reserved for accommodation as well.
“They are fanatically looking for accommodation now in the informal sector, such as home stays and apartments,” Amaratunga added.
He also said that some of the participants of the Bohra Convention have decided to stay as far away as Galle.
“The connectivity is no longer a problem. Participants staying in Negombo and Galle are making use of the highway and shuttling twice a day,” he said.
The first-ever ‘carbon-neutral’ Ashara Mubaraka — a 10-day spiritual convention — will draw around 25,000 religious visitors from 40 countries, while the economic benefit to the country may well be in excess of $50 million. Sri Lanka has hosted the Ashara Mubaraka five times, with the last occasion being in 2008.
The Minister also said that a free visa facility would be extended to all countries that participants are travelling from.