Sri Lanka’s hidden marine potential is huge

Monday, 21 May 2012 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • SL well placed to develop all classes of Marinas known to the shipping and boating world -Int’l Marina Specialist Simon Arrol
  • SL also a natural hub for world cruising yachts  
  • Colombo’s Marina potential packs strong worldwide free publicity potential essential for a fast growing tourist destination


Sri Lanka is a natural hub for world cruising yachts. “We are well positioned to be a yacht hub and marina development can boost our tourism potential and worldwide publicity considerably,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 18 May.

The Minister announced this in the aftermath of an in-depth presentation on ‘Marina Development in Sri Lanka’ made to him and his top officials on Friday by the Channel Islands based visiting international marina consultant and developer, Simon J Arrol (CEng, FICE), Managing Director of Arrol Ltd in Jersey. 

As an international marina consultant, Arrol has undertaken marina projects in 34 countries during his career that spanned five years of independent consulting, 16 years as Managing Director of Camper and Nicholsons Marinas and 15 years in the dredging and ports sector, mostly with RBKW, the world’s largest dredging firm. Arrol was in town to attend the third international ‘Boat Show 2012’ inaugurated by the Minister at the BMICH.

Highlighting Sri Lanka’s tourism development to Arrol Minister Bathiudeen stressed, “Thanks to the efforts of our Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa we are experiencing record numbers of tourists and tourism earnings. We are expecting over one million tourists this year and revenue of USD 1 billion. I believe marina development will enhance our tourism earnings even more. The Belgium investment delegation that arrived here for Expo 2012 show and also visited me on 30 March too expressed their interest to invest in Marinas here.”

 The 28 member strong Belgium delegation that met Minister Bathiudeen in Colombo on 30 March also was keen to invest in manufacturing and consulting sectors in Sri Lanka.

 Arrol, who recently completed a marina potential study in another well-known tourist island destination, said in his detailed presentation to Minister Bathiudeen and his top officials: “Marinas are the boat parks and ‘the infrastructure’ for yatching. The marinas around the world constitute very high potential multi-billion dollar revenue sector and is closely linked to yachting and related activities such as diving, offshore fishing, and water-sports. In the UK, the equivalent of Rs 280 billion ($ 2 billion) and 63,000 jobs are found in this sector. The reason is that along with boat parking, commercial property development such as shops and theme parks too spring up with Marinas.

The beautiful coastline, the foreign tourists, and the increasing wealth of the professional classes in Sri Lanka mean that there is vast potential for doing marina business. Sri Lanka also has the necessary hospitality, boat-building, and sporting skills to add.

The potential for Sri Lanka is so strong that if only “marinas, yachting, and related activities” contribute just 5% extra revenue to the Government’s tourism target of the annual revenue of US $ 2.75 billion by 2016, then this sector alone will return $140 million (Rs. 17 billion) per year. This will be in addition to other benefits such as port development, creation of jobs and introduction of new sporting and leisure activities to the country. Also, Sri Lanka is well placed to develop all classes of Marinas – the “Ocean class” which are full-service marinas, “Coastal class”, which are limited-service marinas and “Yachting Stations” for safe, overnight berthing.”

Arrol also explained his evaluation of the potentials of a strong Marina in the capital: “A well designed Marina in Colombo can boost its international profile significantly. It will draw leisure tourists and Colombo could become a marina destination. International marina events can be held regularly generating valuable worldwide publicity which will be almost free, an essential factor for a fast growing tourism destination.”