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Social media presents dilemmas and opportunities in Asian tourism boom

Online booking platforms pose long-term threat to traditional hotel sector

A catamaran fishing boat on the beach in front of a tourist resort hotel in Negombo. (Photo by Marwaan Macan-Markar)

NEGOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Two bare-chested Russian tourists sporting orange swimming shorts play frisbee on the beachfront of a popular hotel in Negombo, a resort town on Sri Lanka's western coast. A short distance away, Greek holidaymakers sip coconut water at an open-air cafe. Both groups have booked into established hotels facing the sea.

Hiran Cooray, a tourist industry veteran, welcomes such mainstream leisure travelers to the six hotels his company owns in the town. "Negombo is our main profit center," he said of his Jetwing properties, which provide 400 rooms catering to both high-end travelers and budget-conscious backpackers.

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