Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando yesterday made a compelling case for the country’s growth decade, inviting global investors to explore investment opportunities in Sri Lanka, which she said is the place to be for travellers post-COVID.
“There are many opportunities in the tourism industry to be explored by potential investors,” she said, speaking on Day 2 of the virtually held Sri Lanka Investment Forum.
Noting that tourism is considered an export industry, Fernando said tax holidays and exemptions have been provided to make Sri Lanka more attractive to investors.
“We have streamlined the investment process. A master document for all approvals has been made, merging all Government line agencies, thereby making it a single application when you invest in tourism.”
She also noted that a one-stop-unit has been setup to facilitate all tourism related investments.
According to her the one-stop-unit has resulted in an increase in investment approvals in the tourism industry in the last year as compared to 2019.
“Sri Lanka Tourism supports investors right throughout the process to resolve regulatory issues related to approvals,” Fernando added.
She also outlined the wide range of tourism-related industries and sectors that can be explored by potential investors.
“We are creating a land bank to assist investors. There is over 1.5 million square foot of upcoming shopping malls in Colombo and a VAT refund for purchases over $ 300 has been approved to support retail tourism. We have two main international airports and a few domestic airports with great airline connectivity.”
In terms of post-COVID tourism, she said travellers will gravitate more towards health and well-being spaces and unique experiences.
“Sri Lanka has everything a post-COVID traveller is looking for. Our country is blessed with many unique experiences.”
Given the pandemic, the Sri Lanka Tourism Chief said travellers might do fewer trips per year, but when they travel, they will possibly invest more time and money in long haul travel where they will enjoy exploring one destination for a longer period.
“Whether it is wellness, religious, adventure, wildlife, sport, history, food, culture, nautical or medical tourism, Sri Lanka has now emerged as a destination where travellers have a desire to look beyond the superficial elements and explore more authentic and experience-driven tourism.”
Pointing out that 2021 to 2030 has been declared as Sri Lanka’s growth decade, Fernando called on potential investors to be part of the country’s success story.
“We continue to improve ourselves and we are growth focused. Sri Lanka is ready.”