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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2966

Strong Case for Nautical Tourism in Sri Lanka

By Ranjit J Perera
Colombo, 26 November, (

Marinas are the infrastructure of the yachting and boat building industry and are essential for yachts and nautical tourism in Sri Lanka. This was stated by Simon J. Arrol, Managing Director of both Arrol Ltd and Marina Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, when making a strong case for the essential infrastructure to support nautical tourism.

“Despite tourism being a major element of the Sri Lankan economy, there are currently no proper marinas in Sri Lanka and very little yachting activity,” says Arrol. Based on the government’s tourism target for 2016, Arrol estimates that if marinas generated even a 5% increase in tourism revenues, Sri Lanka would benefit by US$ 140 million per year.

Interest in marinas has been renewed recently and the marinas section of the International Council of Marine Industry Associations (ICOMIA) held its annual gathering in Colombo last month to coincide with the Boat Show.

ICOMIA also hosted a half-day conference on ‘Marina Development and Marine Tourism in Sri Lanka’. Addressing the conference about the potential for marinas in Sri Lanka Arrol said, “There are more than 15,000 marinas around the world but only three of some significance in the Indian Ocean.”

Arrol Ltd. is the world’s No.1 independent marina consultancy firm and recently featured Marina Lanka’s projects on its exhibition stand at the World Marinas Conference in Istanbul. Simon Arrol himself has spent the past 40 years as a professional in maritime engineering, and during the past 25 years has specialised in the design, development, and operation of yacht marinas, working on assignments in 39 countries.

Arrol first visited Sri Lanka seven years ago to tour Colombo where his father, who was serving with the Royal Navy, was put ashore in 1941 to recover from dysentery and malaria.

This visit ultimately led to the formation of Marina Lanka with Sebastian Devonshire, an architect and experienced yachtsman, and industrialist Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa. Today Arrol dreams of building an international class marina as he did following a similar visit to Malta about fifteen years ago. That visit led to the development of Grand Harbour Marina that was opened by Her Majesty the Queen during CHOGM 2005.

Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan director on the board of Marina Lanka (Pvt) Ltd and a director of Building A Future Foundation, says that marinas will boost the local boat building industry. “Today, Sri Lanka’s boat building expertise has found favour in so many countries including the USA, UK, Norway, Sweden, Holland, France, Iran, UAE, Yemen, Somalia, Gambia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore and Mauritius.”

In Sebastian Devonshire, Marina Lanka has a fully qualified architect who is also an Ocean Yachtmaster with commercial endorsement to 200 tonnes. He has 15 years architectural and master planning experience with specialisation in coastal development. Sebastian has his own architectural practice in Sri Lanka.

Marina Lanka has provided technical support to the first two mini-marinas (yachting stations) in Sri Lanka, at Mirissa and Beruwala.

“The installation of yachting stations inside existing fishery harbours encourages yachts to cruise the coastline,” says Arrol. Making a comparison he says that the Thais, although much like Sri Lankans in that few have a tradition in yachting, have acknowledged marinas as an important asset for their hugely important tourism sector.

Arrol believes that marinas in Sri Lanka will attract visits from Indian owned yachts bringing in valuable foreign investment and encouraging direct Indian investment.

“Marina Lanka is hopeful of soon partnering with new investors to set-up Sri Lanka’s first full-fledged marina that would offer international class facilities for yachtsmen and women from around the world,” says Arrol.

- Asian Tribune -

The Grand Harbour Marina in Malta built by Simon Arrol has facilities for berthing Superyachts.
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