An Echelon Media Company
Thursday December 7th, 2023

Diana Gamage undeterred in efforts to revamp Sri Lanka nightlife

Pic by Abishek Palraj/Wikimedia Commons

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new and somewhat controversial State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage is determined to forge ahead with her plans to revitalise Colombo’s largely barren nightlife, in a bid to entice tourists and encourage spending.

Speaking to EconomyNext, Gamage said Sri Lanka, though rich in cultural attractions to keep foreigners occupied during daytime, cannot match the vibrant nightlife offered by its competitors.

Unlike countries like Singapore and Thailand, known for their street stalls and night time entertainment, Sri Lanka gives visitors and locals alike limited options in terms of things to do after dark, she said.

“If [tourists] want to go shopping, there’s nothing open at night. They want to enjoy dancing, singing, listening to music, drinking, eating…what have we got in this country? Sri Lanka is a dead island at night,” said Gamage.

The lack of entertainment options has resulted in an outflow of foreign currency, she claimed, as locals with disposable income also look towards foreign destinations to spend their money at.

“Sri Lankans, too, collect their money, convert it to dollars and go to Malaysia, Singapore, or Dubai,” she said.

“They’re giving our money out to the other countries. Why? Because there’s nothing for them to enjoy in Sri Lanka.”

Gamage said that her critics, who often pigeonhole nightlife into a culture of casinos and prostitutes, cannot see the bigger picture. Her vision has more to do with giving people an outlet to enjoy and spend, in order to keep the economy running, she said.

“There should be food stalls…shopping…music that people can enjoy.”

The legislator, originally from the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), also said that culture and religion should be kept separate from development.

“We should have that history, we should have our culture. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop there and stop the development of a country.

“Every time this country has tried to develop in some way, people have brought this religion and culture issue forward…today, it has brought us to bankruptcy,” she said.

As part of her plans to keep tourists engaged while in the country, Gamage is also on a mission to change Sri Lanka’s attitude towards alcohol. The country’s current laws are too restrictive, she claims.

“Sometimes people just want to go and have a beer, and they can’t. We should be able to sell beer and wine in this country.”

Small restaurants in Sri Lanka often find it easier to bribe local authorities and sell alcohol on the sly, as beer licences are somewhat expensive, and constantly turning away tourists is bad for business. Gamage believes that the licences should be more accessible to small business owners.

Gamage believes that it is not too late to tap into the economic benefits of having a fully fledged nightlife culture, and that people are too narrow-minded to see it.

“I don’t know why people cannot see the opportunities we are losing. You know, we call Sri Lanka a paradise. But what paradise is shut at 10 o’clock in the night?” (Colombo/Sep30/2022)

Comments (1)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Ranjith De Silva says:

    Definitely this country want new strategies to survive in this competitive world. Not go behind religion and culture. After 75 years Sri Lanka have become a failed nation. Religion should not be part of the affairs of the state. Leave it to the individuals. Soon the country will be out of the crises.

View all comments (1)

Comments (1)

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Ranjith De Silva says:

    Definitely this country want new strategies to survive in this competitive world. Not go behind religion and culture. After 75 years Sri Lanka have become a failed nation. Religion should not be part of the affairs of the state. Leave it to the individuals. Soon the country will be out of the crises.

COP28 sees new era for climate action with $57 bln pledge; Sri Lanka’s proposals need approval

ECONOMYNEXT – The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) has witnessed governments, businesses, investors, and philanthropies announcing support of over $57 billion across the climate agenda in just the first four days of the global event with eight pledges and declarations receiving historic support.

After a historic deal to operationalize a fund for climate impact response on the first day, announcements have poured in across the entire climate agenda, including on finance, health, food, nature, and energy.

On climate finance, the COP28 host United Arab Emirates launched a $30 billion catalytic fund, ALTÉRRA, with an emphasis on unlocking private finance across the Global South.

The host nation also has announced $200 million for SDRs and $150 million for water scarcity.

The World Bank has announced an increase of $9 billion annually to finance climate-related projects, while the first two days of COP28 saw $725 million in pledges after a historic response to loss and damage was operationalized.

Eight new declarations have been announced which are expected to help transform every major system of the global economy.

These include the first ever declarations on food systems transformation and health, plus declarations on renewable energy and efficiency, as well as initiatives to decarbonize heavy emitting industries.

The eight declarations are:

  • The Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge has been endorsed by 119 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food, & Climate has received endorsements from 137 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health has been endorsed by 125 countries.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Relief, Recovery & Peace has been endorsed by 74 countries and 40 organizations.
  • The COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate Finance has been endorsed by 12 countries.
  • The Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships (Champ) Pledge has been endorsed by 64 countries.
  • The Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter has been endorsed by 51 companies, representing 40 percent of global oil production.
  • The Industrial Transition Accelerator has been endorsed by 35 companies and six industry associations, including World Steel Association, International Aluminium Institute, Global Renewable Alliance, Global Cement and Concrete Association, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, International Air Transport Association.

Three additional declarations will be announced in the coming days on hydrogen, cooling, and gender. The number of countries supporting these declarations and pledges is growing and demonstrates an unprecedented level of inclusivity at this COP.

Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe announced three new proposals: Climate Justice Forum (CJF), Tropical Belt Initiative (TBI), and International Climate Change University in Sri Lanka.

However, the proposals are yet to get approval from the general UN body though the island nation’s authorities expect wide support for the moves.

“What we have done is to talk to countries about the initiatives and launch them. Next step is for them to be formally recognized by the main body,” Ruwan Wijewardena, the Senior Advisor to President Wickremesinghe on Climate change, told Economy Next.

Breakdown of financial pledges and contributions so far:

  • Loss and Damage: $725 million
  • Green Climate Fund: $3.5 billion (increasing second replenishment to $12.8 billion)
  • Renewable Energy: $2.5 billion
  • Technology: $568 million
  • Methane: $1.2 billion
  • Climate Finance: Over $30 billion from UAE (plus $200 million in Special Drawing Rights and an increase of $9 billion annually from the World Bank)
  • Food: $2.6 Billion
  • Nature: $2.6 Billion
  • Health: $2.7 billion
  • Water: $150 million
  • Relief, Recovery and Peace: $1.2 billion
  • Local Climate Action: $467 million (Dubai/Dec 6/2023)
Continue Reading

Sri Lanka to start international tourism branding campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will soon start a tourism international marketing campaign under the theme ‘You will come back for more,” Tourism Minister Harin Fernando said.

“We have not had a branding campaign for 15 years,” Fernando told parliament. “A campaign has been developed by Ogilvy.

“It will help us reach the target of 2.3 million tourists next year.”

This year Sri Lanka is expecting a 1.5 million tourists with close to 1.3 million reached by November.

About 6,000 tourists are now coming each day, at the moment he said.

On December 10, three cruise ships are due. (Colombo/Nov06/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka 3-month Treasuries yields fall

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasury bill yields eased across maturities with the tree month yield falling 19 basis points to 14.67 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

A total of 185 billion rupees in bills were sold, with sharply lower than offered volumes in 12-months sold.

The debt office offered 55 billion rupees of 3 -month bills and sold 87 billion.

92 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold after offering 60 billion at 14.38 percent down 14 basis points.

Only 5.2 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold after offering 70 billion rupees, at 12.88 percent, down 01 basis point. (Colombo/Dec06/2023)

Continue Reading