Sri Lankan boat building is very well developed and recognized both locally and internationally with a large number of not only fishing vessels but also large luxury boats being exported. Demonstrating this international recognition, arrangements are already in place to hold the International Marina Group – The International Council of Marine Industries Association (ICOMIA) annual conference parallel to the Boat Show at Pegasus Hotel, Wattala, during the exhibition days from October 10-12 this year.
Boat building, tourism and fisheries combined together would bring in a new lease for Sri Lanka’s leisure industry soon as things are worked out to have Maldives-styled luxury boats for tourists to spend their holiday.
Neil Fernando, Chairman, Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute Lanka (GTE) Ltd speaking at the launch of Boat Show and Fisheries Exhibition 2014 held in Colombo this week said that in the Maldives there are about 450 charter boats operating and tourists come to Maldives, stay in those boats throughout their holiday and move around from island to island and get involved in underwater diving, water sports and various other activities.
Speakers at the launch including Fisheries Minister Rajitha Senaratne and Neil Fernando (second from left). Pic by Ranjit Perera.
He said that Sri Lanka too is an island and having harbours around the country the industry is being encouraged to go into this sector, very soon.
“Actually diving, whale watching, sports fishing and even sailing would add value to the Sri Lanka’s tourism destination,” he noted. He said that it would not only attract more and more tourists but also support the livelihoods of the locals around these harbours by creating job opportunities and would spark an interest in the property development. He said that this year’s Boat Show comes with a difference in that the fisheries industry that has been the driving force in the local boat building industry is associated with the Boat Show and the event is to be held in the Dickowita Fisheries Harbour.
More than 30 delegates and boating and marina business specialists from Europe, Asia and North America are expected to participate at the conference. Mr. Fernando said that the ICOMIA Conference would also bring in exposure to the Sri Lankan boat building industry and potential development of the marine sector in areas of tourism, fisheries and transport.
He said that they have exported a large number of fishing vessels to many countries the world over and their products are very popular and more and more people are visiting them to buy Sri Lankan made fishing and other vessels.
The development of Marinas in selected areas in the country would act as a catalyst to drive new investments and create new opportunities in the sector. This will open up positively in the pressure and also create the much needed infrastructure in the tourism sector too. It will also open up opportunities to the yacht charter sector which will further boost Sri Lanka’s tourism.