Sri Lanka tourism industry pushes breakthrough approval process to boost tourism investments - Opportunity Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka tourism industry pushes breakthrough approval process to boost tourism investments

Sri Lanka tourism industry pushes breakthrough approval process to boost tourism investments

Daily FT: Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) yesterday inked eight agreements with key State agencies in a breakthrough collective effort to streamline the approval process and boost investments via a single application form.
SLTDA, the apex Government agency tasked with planning, development and regulation; entered into eight Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Central Environmental Authority, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Department of Agrarian Development, Department of Irrigation, Department of National Building Research Organisation, Department of Forest Conservation, Department of Archaeology, and Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. The eight MoUs were a result of two-and-half years’ effort.
Previously, SLTDA entered into MoUs with the Board of Investment (BOI), Department of Coast Conservation and the Urban Development Authority (UDA).
Going forward, SLTDA will extend it to four more line Ministry agencies such as Merchant Shipping Secretariat, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) and National Water Supply and Drainage Board. This will put 15 agencies in a single application to facilitate investments.
Since 2010, Investor Relations Unit (IRU) of the SLTDA had been working as the centralised facilitation agency for all tourism investments, while the BOI handled all the non-tourism projects. During the past 12 years, the unit has received 1,006 applications worth US$ 7.6 billion, and of that, only 457 applications to the tune of US$ 3.8 billion were approved.
“Tourism industry is considered high on the agenda to usher economic recovery and growth in the post-COVID era optimism. This collective effort is a milestone in creating a better ‘Doing Business’ environment that promotes tourism investments and foster close inter-agency coordination and communication,” Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told the Daily FT.

Despite COVID-19, Sri Lanka has received 99 applications for tourism projects worth over $ 1.01 billion during the past two years, with 59 projects amounting to US$ 300 million being approved.
“The Government officials need to fast-track and carry forward the initiatives without making the process strenuous for the investor. The mindset of the people is a major stumbling block in achieving the set targets. It is important that best practises such as these are brought into the systems,” Ranatunga pointed out.
Tourism Ministry Secretary S. Hettiarachchi said the Government red tapes were a major hindrance to boost investments, not just in tourism but overall.
“Earlier, the approval process for an investment project was very cumbersome. With the inclusive application, we have reduced the timeframe by 50% or more and the investor does not have to fill multiple applications for the same project,” he said.
The Ministry Secretary said promotion to attract travellers and investment is a low hanging fruit that the Government is pinning much hope on in the post-COVID era, as it is a ‘plug and play’ model.
“The economic turmoil we face today is a reflection of the lost income in the tourism industry during the past two years due to COVID-pandemic. The economic loss is over US$ 10 billion,” he added.
Hettiarachchi also said they hope to work closely with Departments of Wildlife Conservation, Forest Conservation and Archaeology – which are directly benefited from the tourism industry.
SLTDA Director-General Dhammika Wijayasingha revealed that, by March, the digital platform of the initiative, ‘Investment Case Management System’ will be up and running, enhancing the efficiency and transparency.
Describing the streamlined investment approval process as a huge leap in facilitating tourism investments, she called on all officials to nominate their focal points to be added in the new system.
“IRU works with 43 line agencies along with local authorities and Divisional Secretariat offices. Through this efficient investment approval process, we have been able to reduce procedures, timelines and required documents. We have now cut down the timeframe on the Preliminary Planning Clearance (PPC) from 54.5 days to 25 days at present, and the Development Permit (DP) from 49 days to 30 days,” she explained.
Explaining the three-step process, Wijayasingha said the investor will only have to visit the site once along with the officials, which will then proceed to a Scoping Committee Meeting to iron out any further issues and after vetting all aspects the approval will be given.
Environment Ministry Secretary Dr. Anil Jasinghe said tourism is one of the key sectors that can pull Sri Lanka out of the economic crisis and put it back on a growth path.
“In the past, tourism was very haphazard. But it has now streamlined many of its functions. Tourism needs a policy and a plan. As a Ministry that works closely with the Tourism industry, we have seen that both policy and plan coming together with greater operational efficiency and transparency to attract tourists as well as investments,” he pointed out.

OSL take:

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is once again on the path to recovery after facing the impact of the global Covid 19 pandemic. There has been a steady growth in tourist arrivals to the country while the tourism authorities have launched a global promotional campaign target key foreign source markets. With the country being listed as one of the top island destinations along with wide exposure in the international media, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is looking at an increased growth rate this year. This has attracted many foreign businesses/investors to explore the expanding opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. With Sri Lanka looking at new tourism concepts, the business potential in the industry continues to increase. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore confidently explore the growing opportunities in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/02022022/Z_2

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