Kandy hotels booked out for annual cultural festival

HOTELS in Kandy are overflowing with tourists during this year’s Esala Perahera (Festival of the Tooth) which began on Thursday.

Held every July or August in the central Sri Lankan city, the Bhuddist festival features a multitude of dancers wearing elegant costumes and elephants adorned with lavish garments.

Rodney Armstrong, resident manager, Mahaweli Reach Hotel and president of the Kandy Hotels Association, said the event was getting more popular each year, especially after the end of the civil war.

Armstrong said around 8,000-10,000 foreign visitors are expected to witness the 10-day event, which ends this year on August 14. Kandy only has about 1,200-1,300 keys inclusive of hotels and guesthouses. “Over the last six to seven days, all hotels here have been fully booked, and no rooms are available,” he said.

Vasantha Leelananda, head of inbound, Leisure Inbound at John Keells Holdings, said that this year’s festival received more promotion as a religious event in Asian source markets such as Japan.

Visitors from traditional markets such as the UK and Germany attend the festival as part of their regular tours.

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