The Government yesterday (09-08-2021) said steps would be taken to pursue a national strategy to capitalise on prospects for boat building and related services, with specific proposals earmarked in the upcoming 2022 Budget.
Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena said the boat and ship building industry has potential to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and the Ministry will further explore investment opportunities in the areas of nautical tourism, internal travel and water sports.
He made these remarks at the launch of the official website for ‘Virtual Boat Show Sri Lanka 2021’, which is scheduled to be held from 25-29 October. It is organised by the Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute (BTI) and Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), in association with the Trade Ministry
“I have begun to explore production, income generation and investment promotion opportunities related to boat building and related services. I hope to develop this industry with a broader national strategy and to include it in the upcoming Budget 2022,” Gunawardena added.
He also pointed out that the proposed tax amnesty bill would further help in attracting large scale investors keen on capitalising in the sector “with no questions asked”.
“I hope the learned judges of the Supreme Court will consider the progressive policies practiced around the globe, and the foreign exchange crisis and economic crunch, in delivering the verdict of the tax amnesty bill within the next week,” he added.
The Trade Minister also said that the Advisory Committee for the sector had been appointed and gazetted to develop the sector.
The National Export Strategy (NES) has identified boat building and its related services as one of the five key industries to expand Sri Lanka’s export basket and export earnings.
Pointing out that ‘Virtual Boat Show Sri Lanka 2021’ is a timely initiative, Gunawardena said the boat and ship building industry could be used to overcome the foreign exchange crisis.
The Trade Minister suggested initiating a collaborative effort with private sector stakeholders, Sri Lanka Navy and the EDB to further expand the industry.
“The sector has grown this far without formal Government assistance, and we have a great track record of making good quality boats and ships with minimum costs. There is great potential to create activities around cruise tourism, internal water stream transportation, water sports – this sector has great potential. We can develop this industry to overcome the foreign exchange crisis.”
EDB Chairman Suresh de Mel said Sri Lanka should take full advantage of the multi-billion-dollar boat building industry and the emerging nautical tourism trend.
“The increasing demand for boats for fishing, industrial, commercial and leisure purposes worldwide, regionally and locally have opened up many opportunities and new markets for Sri Lanka. High marine diversity of the country provides massive potential for the development of nautical tourism, which directly benefits the boat building sector,” he added.
The Chairman also said the virtual boat show would enhance the visibility of the boat and ship building industry internationally and to position Sri Lanka as a quality sourcing destination for boat and ship building.
“The show is timely, and this will give the opportunity to the Sri Lankan boat manufacturers to explore new business contacts as the virtual show will provide a platform to reach a wider range of potential buyers globally,” de Mel said.
BTI Managing Director Gamini Herath said they hope to attract businesses worth over $ 50 million through this year’s Boat Show.
“Since the beginning of the Boat Show Sri Lanka, the country was able to record an average export turnover of $ 80 million and 2011 recorded the highest so far with a figure of $ 149 million. The aim of the NES is to increase the export revenue to the value of $ 500 million,” he added.
Herath said the potential in boat building and related services was very encouraging and that they hope the companies will make maximum use of the opportunity available to promote their business through the Virtual Boat Show Sri Lanka 2021.