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Sri Lanka urged to cut red tape to draw marina investments

COLOMBO, Oct 20, 2014 (EconomyNext) – International yachtsmen and marina operators have advised Sri Lanka to ease restrictions on land leases and navigation to make the island more attractive for high-spending pleasure boat sailors.

They also suggested the country start small, with simple moorings for visiting pleasure craft, before setting up full-fledged marinas, which are more capital intensive.

Steven Desloovere, Chairman of the Flemish Watersport Federation, who has sailed in Sri Lankan waters, said that there are a lot of sailing opportunities given the prevelance of pleasure craft and boating enthusiasts in nearby countries.

"Phuket in Thailand has a lot of boats. The Andaman islands is full of boats and the Maldives is full of boats," he told a marina forum.

"But Sri Lanka does not have that many boats. The problem is the lack of infrastructure."

Sri Lanka has potential with many safe anchorages and protected bays and located "on the way around the world for sailors," Desloovere said.

"There are a few thousand people a year who sail around the world and they have to pass by Sri Lanka. So you need infra structure. You don’t have to start with big expensive marinas. You can start with moorings."

Desloovere also said navigation restrictions should be eased to make it easier for
visiting yachtmens to come ashore all over the island.

He acknowledged the need for the authorities to monitor movements in coastal waters for security reasons but said an easier system where visiting boats can call at one harbor, pay a monthly permit, and then sail all around the country and anchor, would be more attractive.

To build marinas, the government should also give long concessions.

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Simon Arrol of Marina Lanka, said investments were available but government support was required.

"We feel investments are not a problem but you need wholehearted government support," he told the forum held alongside the International Council of Marine Industries Association (ICOMIA) annual conference.

"Land must be made available at realistic prices on long lease. No marina developer will spend millions of dollars if they only get a five-year lease. In Europe the average lease for marinas is about 35 years and renewable."

 

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