South African investor to bolster Sri Lanka Tourism
By Dr Srimal Fernando South Asia Correspondent
Sri Lanka is the tear drop-shaped island located 30 kilometers off the south eastern coast of India. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. During the past three years, after the dawn of peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka, the number of foreign companies investing in Sri Lanka has been increasing steadily. The island nation boasts of a progressive and modern industrial economy. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in the South Asian region with a remarkable economic growth.
At present, South African Investment in Sri Lanka has also been growing steadily. The long history of diplomatic friendship between the two countries lifted their relationship to a new stage, with an investment of 800 million dollars by a South African gaming and hotels group in 2011. According to media reports the investment will be made in a 200-acre private property in the coastal city of Katana, north of the Colombo by the Sun City Resorts run by South Africa's Sun International Ltd.
The growing bilateral ties between the two nations have opened up a host of opportunities for South African companies to tap the rapidly expanding Sri Lankan market and to do business in Sri Lanka. The South African Sun City Resorts investment will be the biggest investment in tourism sector development in Sri Lanka up to now. This will be followed by 500 million dollar investment by the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Asia to build a 500-room luxury hotel in Colombo and a 300-room city resort in Hambantota on the southern coast. The growing bilateral ties between the two nations have opened up a host of opportunities for South African companies to tap the Sri Lankan market and for the Sri Lankan companies to do business in South Africa. In 2010 the two way trade between two countries Sri Lanka and South Africa stood at 38.61 million dollars.
Travel and tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Sri Lanka. The country’s tourism industry is growing very rapidly and has become one of the major tourist destinations in the region. Comparisons with other countries in the region have shown that Sri Lanka offers the most business friendly environments in South Asia. The expansion of tourism in the country continues to achieve spectacular gains in recent years. There have been new trends in tourist arrivals that give much expectation for the industry. Up to the end of December 2011, the number of tourist arrivals has recorded 855,975. This is 30.8 per cent more than the number of arrivals to the country in 2010.
Recently one of the reputed travel magazines in Britain “Cond’e Nast Traveller” has nominated Sri Lanka as one of the top five destinations to watch in 2012. Sri Lanka has been placed third among the worlds top five in the list of destinations, ahead of Britain, Australia and Abu-Dhabi.
As one of the populous countries in South Asian region, the growth and achievements in the Tourism sector of Sri Lanka are outstanding. Sri Lanka Tourism Board forecast that the contribution that will be made from the tourism sector to the national Gross Domestic Production (GDP) in 2012 will pass the one billion dollar mark from 950,000 arrivals. Further, the government aims to bolster the tourism sector and targets annual revenue of 2.7 billion dollars by 2016 from 2.5million visitors.
South Africa's Sun City Resorts recent investments in the Sri Lankan Leisure sector will boost the growth of the tourism sector of Sri Lanka. On the other hand South African’s will feel the confidence to travel and to invest in the countries of this region.