Cargo village at MRIA | Sunday Observer
Assistance of private sector sought - Minister

Cargo village at MRIA

9 January, 2022

Dubai: Opening a new business similar to the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA), a new cargo village will be set up with the assistance of the private sector, said Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga at the Dubai Expo.

He said that since the Government is not investing heavily on some infrastructure area they decided to offer the building and maintenance of this proposed terminal to the local private sector. “We have obtained the Cabinet nod for this and this process will result in MRIA being turned into a cargo hub.”

Key role

Speaking to the Sunday Observer at a special media networking event hosted by Sri Lanka Consul General in Dubai Nalinda Wijerathna said that the local private sector has been contacted to progress with this. “MRIA played a key role during the peak of the pandemic facilitating crew transfers, Seafarer operations, passenger handling mainly due to its location and space it offers.”

“Now we are looking at introducing more cargo operations and the proposed cargo village will help to attract new business to MRIA.”

One of the other main advantages of this would be that farmers and fruit and vegetable growers not only in the South but also in the Eastern province too would get the opportunity to export their produce directly to the world market enabling them for the first time in the history to earn in dollars.”

The Minister also said that he talked several new airlines, especially from the Gulf to operate flights to MRIA.


The Gulf has a very large expat population with a big number of Europeans and when the season commences in mid year they usually travel to Europe. “However with the new Covid-19 spread and closure of borders many European expats now are looking to travel elsewhere and Sri Lanka will look to capture this market.”

“Gulf based expatriates are keen to move into cooler climates and Sri Lanka can step in this regard by promoting Kandy and Nuwara Eliya aggressively to this market. Here again since the MRIA is close to Uva it can be promoted to this new market as their landing point and they can fly back from Colombo.”

Minister Ranatunga said that over 15,000 tourists had arrived in Sri Lanka up to January 7 in the New Year showing the confidence tourists have in Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka is seeing a steady revival of visitor arrivals due to a very successful vaccination program.

Highly commended by the World Health Organization (WHO) operating on health guidelines formulated by experts, Sri Lanka has seen a steady decline in the number of Covid-19 infections, with over 85 percent of the eligible population from Sri Lanka’s 21.9 million being vaccinated, and the administering of Booster Pfizer vaccines well underway with travel industry persons given priority”, said Minister Ranatunga.


The Minister who said that in January 2021 only 1,682 tourists had arrived in the country also said that everyone who contributes to raising the standards of the field of tourism, are shareholders of this success.

Although true facts about the reawakening economy of the country are being intentionally covered up by groups who are making absurd allegations in order to achieve their narrow political objectives, Minister Ranatunga said that he will ensure that this New Year will turn out to be the best year for tourism.

Minister Prof. G L Peiris addressing the Sri Lanka Day at the Dubai World Expo at the world’s biggest dome auditorium especially built for the Expo said that while taking advantage of Sri Lanka’s geographical location especially for the maritime sector he also said Sri Lanka will have a good future by concentrating more on a blue economy taking advantage of the ocean.


The Minister said that he will also request the Sri Lankan Embassies to be more aggressive in this area and look at other investment opportunities to Sri Lanka and increase bilateral trade.

The Sri Lanka pavilion at EXPO Dubai was organised by Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Embassy and the Consulate General office in Dubai.

Earlier Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, visited the Sri Lankan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai along with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was an honoured guest at the Pavilion.

The UAE is one of the largest sources of Foreign Direct Inflows (FDIs) to Sri Lanka and one of its largest trading partners in the Middle East.

Located in the “Opportunity” district of EXPO 2020, the pavilion mainly focuses on showcasing the unique diversity of the country to the world in a touristic perspective.

At the same time the country’s cultural heritage, natural beauty, products that Sri Lanka offers to the world including gems and jewellery, Ceylon tea, arts and crafts as well as trade and investment opportunities are also promoted during the exposition period of six months.


Parallel to the EXPO participation, Sri Lanka has also planned a number of promotional events in the UAE to promote bilateral cultural relations, Ceylon tea, Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and trade.

Expo 2020 is a world fair, currently hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from October, 1, 2021 to March, 31, 2022.

Highlights from the Dubai Expo Sri Lanka day and the Sri Lankan Pavilion