HDCC organised a business delegation to the United Kingdom to enhance the knowledge of 21 Hambantota District business people about business opportunities in the UK, and also to give them the opportunity to travel around the country and experience a different culture.
This was extremely important to them since the Hambantota District is undergoing such a significant change with its new developments including a Deep Sea Port, International Airport and Cricket Stadium.
The mission was organised with the support of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) and its service delivery arm Manchester Solutions (MS). The delegation was led by Azmi Thassim, Director General, HDCC.
The tour began with a meeting with the mayor of the city of Manchester. The highlight for our delegation was the historic involvement of the private sector and the involvement of the industry to the success of the region. Our team also experienced the Visitor Centre in Manchester and the Manchester United Football Complex and it gave an idea as to how it functions and also the economy around the venue.
On 3 November UKTI and GMCC organised a “Spotlight on Sri Lanka” event in Manchester which featured the member delegation from HDCC; the event was attended by UK businesses and industrial companies. Thassim briefed the gathering on the rising investment sectors open for foreign direct investment, as well as private-public partnerships and joint ventures in the Hambantota District. He also emphasised the links forged between HDCC and GMCC which won the “Best Networking Award” at the 6th World Chamber Congress for the working partnership established between MS and HDCC. Since the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, MS has provided technical assistance to HDCC aimed at strengthening its capacity to play a major role in the economic development of the Hambantota District.
The Trade Section of the Sri Lanka High Commission provided a detailed presentation on business opportunities in Sri Lanka followed by a case study on doing business in Sri Lanka by UK Company, Cargo Overseas which established a branch office in Sri Lanka in August last year. UKTI North West focused on the prospects for attracting commercial opportunities in the industrial regions of Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire, Lancashire and Cumbria which consists of over 250,000 businesses. The region has a population of 7 million and is ranked second in the UK for international trade.
The Hambantota delegation went on to Edinburgh and they met its Youth Business counterparts in Scotland. The Chamber is playing a major role in the development of tourism in the Hambantota District and Sri Lanka’s Southern Region and the delegation visited Bath, Bristol and Edinburgh to experience the ways in which the tourist attractions in those cities are presented and managed.
On 8 November, the Sri Lanka High Commission in London hosted a networking reception with the Sri Lankan Diaspora in the UK and representatives of local Chambers of Commerce. The Sri Lankan High Commissioner, in his welcome address, noted the pioneering nature of HDCC’s history since 1990, its incorporation as a district chamber in 1993, and the strategic and pivotal role it could play in the mega development and economic projects taking place in the Hambantota District. He noted that today, in the aftermath of peace, we are seeing a great momentum in international interest to trade and invest in Sri Lanka. He noted that the frequency of outward business delegations to Sri Lanka has increased significantly. The UK has become the second largest source for tourists next to India, and accounts for 30% of tourist related earnings in Sri Lanka. Last year the UK was the second largest investor in Sri Lanka.
The delegation visited the World Travel Market tourism event on 9 November in London and had the opportunity to meet Sri Lankan companies and also to promote the HDCC campaign “Southern Deep South” to highlight our region as wonderful tourist destination for their clients. During the visit the HDCC President, the immediate past President and Thassim had an opportunity to visit the Youth Business International office in London.