Sri Lanka to launch five year plan to transform Mattala International Airport
The government of Sri Lanka has reportedly launched an integrated five-year plan to transform the Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) in the country’s Southern Province into a commercially busy and viable facility in the South Asian region.
Sri Lanka’s Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga has told the media that Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd. had presented a five-year development plan to transform MRIA into an attractive and active aviation hub in the Indian Ocean.
Themed ‘An exotic tourism destination,’ the development plan is expected to transform MRIA by the year 2025 to be up and running similar to the country’s main airport in Katunayake, local media reports stated.
According to reports, the Mattala Airport is designed to handle one million passengers and 45,000 metric tons of cargo per year and the new plan aims to directly contribute to the development of the country’s economy whilst making the airport more active and attractive for the tourists.
The five year plan has further resulted in discussions commencing with the world’s leading airlines on the instructions of Minister Ranatunga to increase air traffic to make MRIA one of the most successful airports in South Asia.
“Under this development plan, a duty-free shopping complex has been added to be included in the five-year plan to attract tourists to MRIA. A tourism promotion initiative is also in operation covering all the tourist facilities associated with the airport,” Ranatunga has been quoted as saying in the Daily FT.
An integrated plan is also in place as a result to develop the social and economic background required to promote MRIA as an attractive foreign tourist destination.
In addition, a number of programmes are being implemented to attract airlines and it is expected that the operations of the airport, which were disrupted due to the COVID pandemic, will be able to continue at maximum capacity in the coming years, the report stated.
The government of Sri Lanka has reportedly also focused on the implementation of the Hambantota Port and Airport Integrated Programme through the establishment of Investment Zones associated with the MRIA and the reactivation of the Hambantota Development Plan.
The increase in the number of flights being operated to Sri Lanka by international airlines is indicative of an increase in the number of visitors from overseas to the country. Also, Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the many trade agreements as well as the trade concessions enjoyed by the country has placed the island in a position where it is fast becoming a business hub in the South Asian region. Apart from the overall expansion of Sri Lanka’s economy that has created many business/investment opportunities in the country, there are many growing business/investment opportunities in the country’s airport/aviation/trade and tourism sectors.
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