Colombo International Logistics Conference on Aug 1 and 2 : Master plan to boost ports’ performance | Sunday Observer

Colombo International Logistics Conference on Aug 1 and 2 : Master plan to boost ports’ performance

CIMC Founder Chairman Rohan Masakorala moderates the media briefing attended by industry experts. Pic: Wimal Karunatilleke
CIMC Founder Chairman Rohan Masakorala moderates the media briefing attended by industry experts. Pic: Wimal Karunatilleke

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has great plans for the future and they will come into fruition with the implementation of the National Master Plan for ports in the country, SLPA Chairman Kavan Ratnayake told the media at the launch of the Colombo International Logistics Conference (CILC) last week.

He said the Colombo Port has been performing well recording the 22nd position in terms of volume and 11th in connectivity, globally.

“The implementation of the master plan will boost the performance of the port sector of the country which is recognised as a leading Port in the region,” Ratnayake said.

Colombo International Maritime Conference (CIMC) Founder Chairman Rohan Masakorala said Sri Lanka has all the potential, resources and expertise to be the leading port in the region given the strategic location of the country.

“We must market this unique selling proposition and graduate from being a transshipment hub to a logistics hub. There has been ample discussion on this and now it’s time for the stakeholders to play a proactive role putting aside the past,” Masakorala said.

He said Sri Lanka is the only location which connects two major hubs, the Far-East and the Middle East within four days of sailing or four hours of flying. This advantage combined with the Indian sub-continent market gives an unprecedented advantage to reduce costs, deliver on time to markets and provide access to consumers.

“We do not have to go far to look for markets. We are next to a 1.3 billion market which can offer enormous opportunities for every sector to benefit,” Masakorala said.

As South Asia’s population and the middle-income group expand, demand for products for manufacturing and consumption is likely to triple or quadruple by 2050, making a huge demand for cost effective logistics services. The space in Sri Lanka is unmatchable for logistics, with any other geographic location, to emerging markets.

However, port sector experts said ‘Sri Lanka has missed many buses’ since gaining independence and now regrets the blunders committed over the past 70 years. Short sighted policies aimed at gaining political mileage have brought ruin. The Easter Sunday carnage is proof of this. It is up to the people to decide before the next election whether they need a developed country similar to Singapore or an impoverished one.

“Many asked me not to hold the event or postpone it. I decided not to give in to terrorist. Come hell or high water we will go ahead with the event which is crucial at a time when the country needs such events to build confidence and market the location. We have got a committed team comprising experts in the industry and we are confident the first logistics conference will be a success,” Masakorala said.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Kishu Gomes said that seven countries have softened their travel advisories and that the number of arrivals is gradually picking up.

However, according to statistics tourist arrivals have dropped by around 70 percent since the Easter attacks.

“What is funny is that there have been visitors coming from countries that issue travel advisories,” Gomes said. The number of arrival since April 21 from UK has been 3,297, Australia 2,484, Germany 2,168, France 2,015, USA 1,326 and China 1,762.

With regard to the PR and marketing campaigns Gomes said Cabinet approval has been granted for the two campaigns which will kick off soon with an investment of Rs. 420 million on the PR and Rs. 1.5 billion on the marketing campaign which will be carried out in 12 key markets.

Organisers of the conference said a large number of foreign participants have already confirmed their attendance. CIMC expects over 200 foreign participants for the event which will be held at the Galadari Hotel Colombo from August 1 to 2.

The event will graced by 20 international speakers who will discuss modern trends in logistics. South Asia’s logistics market and the emerging role of Sri Lanka as a global logistics centre.

The conference will be combined with Port visits, free trade zone visits, and optional tours, (the country was designated as the “top travel destination for 2019” by Lonely Planet travel Website, before the April 21st carnage).

The conference is organised by CIMC Events, which had two major conferences in Colombo on the maritime industry of Sri Lanka in 2015 & 2016, when over 400 delegates took part. CIMC Events have also conducted two international conferences in Mumbai, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2017/2018 (South Asia Maritime and Logistics Forum).

Extensively developed for variety of purposes and connectivity. Colombo being the main container transshipment port is the only main South Asian port, close to the East-West shipping route and is well equipped for the 21st century mega container ships.