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Home > Daily News > Sri Lanka feels there is tremendous opportunity to expand marine tourism in the country

Sri Lanka feels there is tremendous opportunity to expand marine tourism in the country

In an exclusive interview with IBI’s Asia and Middle East correspondent Mike Derrett, two Sri Lanka government departments in the capital Colombo have confirmed plans to develop leisure boating.

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Mr PM Withana, described plans for the development of marine tourism and leisure boating in Sri Lanka. “The Tourism Board feels that there is a tremendous opportunity to expand our marine tourism sector in Sri Lanka,” he said. “While we have existing marine tourism activities with specialist activities such as surfing competitions, kite boarding and activities for tourists such as whale watching, Sri Lanka is not generally known as a leisure boating destination.

“The government is very keen to change this and open marinas in key positions to attract the transient yachts that pass Sri Lanka. We also need marinas to act as bases for boats involved in marine tourism to increase the numbers of tourists coming to enjoy water sports.”

In another interview with the Sri Lanka Export Development Board, the chairperson and chief executive Indira Malwatte said: “It is a priority for our government to increase exports as our balance of trade needs to be improved, and the government has identified the need to develop new product sectors and markets for export, diversifying away from our traditional industries of tea and garment production.

“Sri Lanka has moved into the middle income bracket countries, so we are also looking to build up leisure-related industries that will appeal to our local population. We have just completed several studies which have identified boatbuilding as a priority sector, and we are planning several measures to assist in this.

“Our studies have also identified the need to establish clear regulations for leisure boating with regard to manufacturing standards, licensing and registration and we are about to commission a project with consultants to generate proposals as to how this should be enacted,” Malwatte said. “We already have a boatbuilding training school in Colombo supported by the Economic Development Board, which not only trains local boatbuilders, but also receives students from overseas.”

Discussing the potential importance of marine tourism as an indirect export, Malwatte said: “Tourism in Sri Lanka has seen a 17% increase in the last six years, but we want to develop more activity-related sectors such as marine tourism, as this sector is a valuable indirect export earner for the county.”

According to the latest data on Sri Lanka from the CIA economic fact file, the country is experiencing strong economic growth following the end of the government’s 26-year conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The government has been pursuing large-scale reconstruction and development projects in its efforts to spur growth in war-torn and disadvantaged areas, develop small and medium enterprises, and increase agricultural productivity.

The government’s high debt payments and low tax revenues have contributed to historically high budget deficits. Government debt of about 72% of GDP remains among the highest in emerging markets. The new government in 2015 increased wages for public sector employees, which boosted demand for consumer goods but hurt the overall balance of payments and reduced foreign exchange reserves.

Sri Lanka and neighbouring Maldives will be the subject of a more detailed market report in a forthcoming issue of IBI magazine.

Source : https://plus.ibinews.com/article/FzssEJ4fI3I/2017/05/17/ibi_meets_with_sri_lanka_government_to_understand_initiative/?nsl=aoGw4N0QtvoD