The country’s boat-building industry has an ambitious target of doubling its export revenue to reach US $ 250 million by 2022.“The industry has taken many initiatives and this will propel the growth prospects, providing an impetus for revenue generation through exports, to reach US $ 250 mn,” Managing Director, Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute, Gamini B. Herath said.
The industry is moving forward with special emphasis under the National Export Strategy (NES) established by the Trade Centre which is implemented by the Export Development Board (EDB). Under the NES, several activities were started for the boat-building sector and one of the important activities was the formulation of a regulatory framework for boat registration, he said. When this regulatory framework is in place, yachts visiting Sri Lanka will be registered, with the collaboration of the Lloyds Sri Lanka Chapter.
“There will be a boat registration system in Sri Lanka soon to assess the quality of boats manufactured and exported from the country. This will also help to register yachts coming to Sri Lanka. There will be an online facility and this will be a boost to nautical tourism,” he said. A major boat industry development project will be launched at Kapparaktota in Weligama Bay shortly. A feasibility study has been conducted to build a breakwater.
“We will facilitate a boat building facility for export purposes, the lack of which was a key issue faced by the industrialists in the past. The area will be also be used to build a medium size marina for 100 boats and yachts. There will be a marina for fishermen too. This will be an ideal location for whale watching, using peer boats. This initiative is expected to fuel the growth of nautical and maritime tourism in the country,” he said. The study related to this project has already been completed and the report will be release in two weeks time.
Plans are also underway to set up a facility to have a slip-way to facilitate craft to be taken ashore for repairs and also for boat building. This area will be dedicated to providing facilities for Sri Lanka’s boating industry. “Industry stakeholders will work to achieve double digit growth by initiating market promotion programs in the next few months. The boat builders will take part in a Boat Show in Italy, and then there will be a London Boat Show where the main manufacturers will participate. Five boat builders will participate in the Germany Boat Show early next year,” he said.
The industry built a landing craft for Sanken Maldives with an export value of US $ 3.5 million. The NES plans to set up a boat and ship model testing facility with assistance from the Japanese Government and JAICA. Such a facility is not available in the country at present, and industrialists have to go to London, Japan or Australia to get this service.
When the facility is in place it will be a huge benefit to the industry. Discussions are under way work out this initiative with the support of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Land in Horana will be allocated for this purpose. The boat-building industry is looking at widening its footprint focusing on the African market. A delegation will visit Africa (including Angola and South Africa), in October, to explore market opportunities. Sri Lanka’s Trade Commission in South Africa is also helping this market promotion campaign.
There is a line-up of activities planned and these will be implemented next month. The International Council of Maritime Industry Association will conduct a complete industry and marketing study in Sri Lanka focusing the Asian region including Sri Lanka, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Myanmar. The EDB had agreed to fund part of the expenses and the industrialists will contribute 20 percent of the total cost of this project.
There is another initiative for a grow boating campaign aimed at encouraging young people to join the industry. There will be promotional activities concentrated on inland waterways and in cities in November. The boat building industry has a few barriers in moving forward. The government and the Ministry of Finance are supporting to address these matters. There are bottlenecks in chartering vessels for tourists. These are also expected to be addressed by the Government and the Ministry of Tourism.