One of the country’s top leisure industry personalities, Mr. Hiran Cooray, head of the Jetwing Group, has appealed to all concerned to utilize the time available before tourism returns to normalcy to pay attention to improving country’s hundreds of of natural and man-made wonders that have over the years not received the love and care they deserve.
‘The relevant authorities must utilize this time to prepare a practical model of of operating these sites once tourist arrivals return to expected numbers,” he has said in the annual report of Jetwing Lighthouse PLC, owners of the Geoffrey Bawa-built Lighthouse Hotel on a spectacular site near Galle.
“If these are not looked into, there will continue to be negative publicity and permanent damage to natural assets like Yala National Park and man-made cultural sites like Sigiriya,” he has said.
“As tourism will likely take a while to return to normalcy, there is an opportunity for us to strategically plan on how we will grow responsibly and sustainably,” Cooray said.
He has made the point that tourism has always had its ups and downs from the time his father, the late Herbert Cooray, entered the industry in 1973. But since the war ended in 2009, the industry had enjoyed continuous growth which had led to their own expansion including investments made by Lighthouse in the recent past.
Reviewing the year ended Mar. 31, 2009, Cooray said that having survived a difficult year, “we are now faced with an even more challenging year, the like of which had not been seen during Jetwing’s history.
They had begun the year with a lot of optimism and hoped to obtain better results following the upgrades made to the property during the year. But these were belied by the Easter bomb which exploded three weeks into the financial year. As they gradually got on to their feet after some months of hardship, and was heading for a quick recovery when the whole world was shaken by the Covid pandemic.
The company ended the year under review with a loss of Rs. 96.3 million, down from the previous year’s profit of Rs. 102.6 million. They are holding back on planned renovations on which they had invested about Rs. 200 million last year.
A new swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean for which all approval had been received was part of the plan that was expected to help position Lighthouse as the premier hotel on the South coast.
The directors’ report indicated changes in directors’ shareholdings with Mrs. AMJ Cooray gifting her holding of over 1.2 million shares equally to her son, Hiran Cooray and daughter, Shiromal Cooray who run Jetwing.
Lighthouse has a stated capital of Rs. 460 million and reserves of Rs. 2.4 billion together with retained earnings of Rs. 332.1 million in its books. Total assets ran at Rs. 3.84 billion and total liabilities at Rs. 644.2 million.
Jetwing Hotel Management Services with 41.24% of Lighthouse is the major shareholder, followed by Mercantile Investments (16.82%), EPF (11.05%) and the Bank of Ceylon (9.73%). Ms. Shiromal Cooray and Mr. Hiran Cooray are the biggest individual shareholders.
The directors of the company are: Messrs. Hiran Cooray (Chairman) RAE Samarasinghe (MD), Ms. Shiromal Cooray, N. Wadugodapitiya, CSR Anotony, Ranil de Silva, EPA Cooray, Ms. AM Ondaatjie, Dr. C. Pathiraja, T. Nadesan and ATP Edirisinghe.