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Best Western's Asian expansion drive turns to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

BEST WESTERN International is looking south, as it continues its fast-paced Asian expansion. The US-based hotel company, which operates more than 4,000 properties around the world, has identified the South Asian countries of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as key growth markets.

Sri Lanka welcomed one million international visitors for the first time in 2012, and is targeting 2.5 million arrivals by 2016. To cater for this rapid growth, Best Western has already announced plans to launch its first hotel in the country - a 60-room Best Western mid-scale property in Colombo, which is expected to open in the next few months.

The company's vice president of International Operations for Asia & the Middle East, Glenn de Souza, said there was significant scope for even more expansion in the country in the future.

"The potential for tourism in Sri Lanka is huge," he said. "International arrivals are multiplying year after year, |and with all parts of this beautiful island now open to tourists, the country offers incredible opportunities. We look forward to playing a major role in the country's bright future."

In Bangladesh, the huge domestic population and booming manufacturing sector are driving growth.

The company already operates the 51-room Best Western La Vinci Hotel in Dhaka, and it is now planning a major, multi-brand expansion across Bangladesh, with new mid-scale, upscale and luxury hotels opening in Dhaka and the coastal resort town of Cox's Bazar.

First to open will be two Best Western Plus up-scale hotels: a 232-room property in Cox's Bazar and a 56-room hotel at Dhaka Airport.

Potentially in 2015, the company will launch a 448-room Best Western and a 720-room Best Western Premier luxury hotel in Cox's Bazar.

"Bangladesh is one of the world's new tiger economies, with strong GDP [gross domestic product] growth," de Souza said. "With rising incomes, strong growth in domestic travel, and a shortage of internationally branded hotels, we believe Bangladesh represents a major opportunity for a global company like Best Western."

Best Western has a portfolio of more than 200 hotels across Asia. The company expects to increase its regional collection to 300 properties in the coming years.


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