Retail sector asks for Govt support to boost retail tourism

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By 2017-10-19

By Nishel Fernando

Prominent figures of Sri Lanka's retail sector asked for Government support to boost the country's retail tourism segment, while pointing out that the future of the retail sector lies with the growth of the tourism sector.

Addressing the first Annual General Meeting of Sri Lanka Retailers' Association (SLRA) recently, Chairman/President Hussain Sadique said the creation of the proposed duty-free zone in west Colombo, increased global promotion activities, and tax incentives to modernize the country's retail outlet are the key to Sri Lanka's retail sector attracting more tourists.

Speaking at the occasion, Ceylon Theatres PLC (CT) Managing Director/Cargills Group Deputy Chairman Ranjit Page said, "Retailers would be the first to reap benefits from the tourism industry. We need to draw millions upon millions of customers, and tourism is going to bring us those customers."
Sadique announced, "We are planning to conduct the Colombo International Shopping festival annually with Government support. We had a budget of Rs 50 million for this year's Colombo International Shopping festival; however, we need more funding from the Government in particular, to promote the event internationally. In addition, a refund counter at the Colombo International Airport would be established next year for tourists' convenience." He revealed that new real-estate developments would get 2.5 million sq. ft. of mall space within the next two years. According to property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the country would be still in short of 0.7 million sq. ft. during 2018-2019.

Minister of Law & Order and Southern Development Sagala Ratnayake said that Sri Lanka needs to market retail tourism to its top five tourism markets - India, China, United Kingdom (UK), Germany and France - to attract new visitors to the country while drawing back high-income tourists. Ratnayake asserted that the Government is confident of reaching US$ 7 billion in
tourism earnings by 2020.

As safety is one the main factors tourists consider prior to visiting a destination, Ratnayake said that his ministry has taken several measures to tackle drug-related and organized crime, and would establish a high degree of law and order in the country in the coming years.

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