Boat building industry records $ 96m in exports | Sunday Observer

Boat building industry records $ 96m in exports

Mike Derrett
Mike Derrett

The sixth edition of the Sri Lanka Boat Show 2018 will be held from October 26 to 28 at the Dikowita harbour premises with new features.

“The boat show this year will be held in a different format and it will not only showcase boats, but will be a product show as well. The boating festival aims at providing some kind of activity to the public related to the boating industry. The event is expected to generate public interest while educating them on the boating lifestyle. This is the first time that a comprehensive boat show is being held in the country,” Advisor to the Boat Show and Market Researcher and Business Planner for the maritime industry, Mike Derrett said.

The boating festival will cover wide aspects of the boat industry which will help to develop a boat building market, boating related tourism and the maritime industry. The show will stimulate people to go to the beach, explore and enjoy while also encourage them to engage in windsurfing and boat riding, he said.

Sri Lanka has a growing middle class and boating could be introduced as one of the leisure activities.

Derrett has vast experience in the boating industry and had been hired by a provinces in South Korea to create a boating festival. The event was highly successful. The number of leisure boats in Korea has grown from 5,000 in 2006 to 35,000 in 2017. The growth recorded was 10 percent in the past ten years. It has become a growing industry in Korea.

“We expect the boat festival to stimulate public interaction and provide fun. It will also provide impetus for the long term growth of the boating industry which will have spin-off effects for the country. The industry growth will boost inward tourism and will enhance investments with regard to maritime tourism,” he said.

Sri Lanka which has a beautiful coastline has a lot of potential to promote the boating industry. It could concentrate on water related activities to attract more tourists.

The Boat Show will encourage boat builders and enhance the potential for exports. There are good bases for marinas and the country needs to build at least 10 more marinas to cater to the growing global nautical tourism demand. Liners which are keen to visit the country should be provided with upgraded facilities at a competitive cost, he said.

The boat building industry recorded US $ 97 million in exports last year, excluding re-exports. The industry has now improved production and models of boats. Earlier they only produced 45 to 50 feet boats and at present they also produce 55-foot vessels. The country is looking at Seashells, Mauritius and Maldives as immediate export markets and also exploring the possibility of entering the African markets such as Kenya and Tanzania as well for fishing boats, Chairman Export Development Board Advisory Committee on Boat and Ship Building, Gamini B. Herath said.

The industry has introduced a few new designs with regard to the leisure boat sector which include sail boats and catamaran types. There are seven boat exporters at present and seven boat services are in operation in the country. These vessels are chartered for whale watching and other leisure activities. Catamarans are very stable boats for leisure fishing. “We build fairly long vessels for pleasure to accommodate 12 to 15 passengers,” he said.

“There is a small market for leisure boats in Sri Lanka. We expect that the Boat Show will pave the way for a market for the leisure boats. We are keen to establish joint ventures to develop the local boat building industry,” Herath said.