Sri Lanka’s Odel lobbying for lower import duties, to lure tourists

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lankan retailer Odel is lobbying the government to reduce import duties and help make the island an attractive shopping destination for tourists who make up a big chunk of its customers, its chairman Ashok Pathirage said.

“Odel is working closely with both the government and policy-makers to reduce the duty on imports to render Sri Lanka as an attractive shopping destination to tourists on par or even better than other regional shopping hubs,” he said.

“We are hoping our lobbying efforts for the industry will help liberalise the market and reduce tariffs to earn valuable foreign revenue for the country.”

There was a sharp fall in tourist arrivals after suicide bombings of hotels and churches in April although the number of visitors has since begun to recover.

“A substantial component of Odel’s business is generated from tourists, hence it is vital that the tourism industry is on an upward trajectory,” Pathirage told shareholders in the company’s annual report.

He also called for better marketing from the Colombo City Centre (CCC), a new mall opened recently where the retail chain has an outlet.

“The footfall at the Mall however needs to be revved up considering new entrants in mall space,” he said.

Odel’s main store in Colombo is facing a decline in number of customers due to lack of parking facilities because of the ongoing constructions on a new mall.

“We are aware of the issue,” Pathiragee said. “But we see this as a minor blip in our ambitious plans to see the Odel Mall open its doors come 2021.”

Odel also has a new department store and a restaurant at the One Galle Face mall managed by the Shangri-La Group, where it has rented 100,000 square feet.
(COLOMBO, 06 Sep, 2019)