About Boating Industry
Sri Lanka has long been acknowledged as a strategic link in world trade routes, ideally positioned at the crossroads of the East-West nautical route. The proposed Kra Canal that is envisaged to connect the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea as an alternative transit route through the Straits of Malacca shortening the sea route to Japan and China, will further strengthen Sri Lanka’s positional advantage in the nautical path.
Post a three-decade long war that concluded in 2009, the beautiful tropical island in the Indian Ocean is today focused on attracting global businesses and the tourist community, given the host of unprecedented opportunities unfolding amidst the peace dividend.
The SLEDB and the BOI are focused on harnessing this prospect by implementing the Government’s vision for the country as an export driven economic hub of the region. A Maritime Trade Hub of Asia is a part of this vision and among the growth sectors identified are the following.
Sri Lanka is well experienced in shipbuilding, ship repairs and boat building and has the potential to become a key exporter in the region. Whilst tourism is a key export earner, nautical tourism and marina development comprise an emerging export sector. As such the SLEDB has identified all of the above growth sectors as sectors that could contribute significantly in achieving the country’s national export targets.
History of the Local Industry
Sri Lanka has a long history in shipbuilding, as evidenced by ancient ports and in inscriptions, chronicles, and literary texts. Chronicles such as the Mahawamsa and Chulawamsa record ships being built as far back as 1st century BC and deployed for purposes such as overseas voyages (to India), coastal surveillance and commodity trade and transport etc, all of which require seaworthy vessels.There are also discoveries ofa large boat with outrigger attached dated to 3rd century BC, a ship of about 60 feet in length, dated to 9th century AD and a craft considered to be older than the first two.
Evolution of the Domestic Shipbuilding Industry
Sri Lanka’s earliest dockyards were built as far back as 1906 during British rule. The vast potential associated with providing maintenance facilities to the increasing traffic flow at the Colombo Harbour, led to the country adopting a cohesive dry dock development and management strategy, which in turn led to the establishment of Colombo Dockyard PLC, (CDPLC) and in 1975, launched the country into the shipbuilding arena. Presently Sri Lanka has a well-experienced shipbuilding and repair segment.