Private equity and investment banking boutique, Mercantile Merchant Bank Ltd., (MMBL) and family-owned leisure giant Jetwing Group are together taking the road less travelled to create new opportunities in the former war torn North by commissioning the biggest ever private sector investment in the region.
The two firms, via an equally-owned joint venture will be kicking off the construction of a 70-room, 15 storey star class hotel in the heart of Jaffna with an investment of over Rs. 700 million tomorrow.
Given the national and regional significance of the ground breaking initiative, Prime Minister D.M Jayaratne will officiate at the ceremony along with Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa.
The star class hotel named Yarl Jetwing will be constructed on a 50 perch land area on the Old Clock Tower Road, in Jaffna. Conceptualised by Design Group 5, the hotel inclusive of a roof top swimming pool and a Presidential Suite will be completed within 18 months.
Since the end of the war nearly three years ago, many in the private sector have only paid lip service to the importance re-engagement with and reintegration in the North. There hadn’t been any significant investment in the area by corporates whilst post-war rebound in tourism has only seen a rush to build hotels outside the North. In that context, the initiative by MMBL and Jetwing is walking the talk and leading by example.
“The venture is arising out of two promoters’ firm belief and philosophy in creating new opportunities,” a spokesman told the Daily FT. “This hotel will create employment for youth in the area in addition to boosting income and business opportunities to the self-employed, micro enterprises and farmers,” he added.
The hotel will be adjacent to Rs. 500 million new shopping and entertainment complex being built by Cargills (Ceylon) Plc, ground-breaking ceremony for which was held in September last year. The new commercial complex of 4 floors with a total floor area of 74,000 sq ft would comprise of retail/shopping space, a bank, a food court, a Cineplex with three cinema screens and a basement car park. It is slated to be completed by mid-2013.
Whilst reconciliation process is taking longer time, most analysts have emphasised that investments and economic development is critical for lasting peace, harmony and prosperity in the North, which suffered most due to the near 30 year old conflict.
Analysts said that bold initiatives from the likes of Cargills, MMBL and Jetwing, whilst welcome, the North needs a greater degree of private sector investments.
MMBL is also working on several more eco tourism projects in Delft Island apart from a few other unique ventures in the travel and tourism industry in partnership with several partners.