Sri Lanka is banking on its growing tourism industry to entice more Qatari nationals and expatriates to visit the country’s tourist destinations, ambassador W M Karunadasa has said.
“Many Qataris visit Sri Lanka but still many people do not know about the beauty of Sri Lanka and the many destinations that the country can offer to its tourists. There are many tourist destinations that can be visited in about four days, especially if visitors plan to stay in different places,” Karunadasa told Gulf Times.
Citing Sri Lanka’s tropical climate, which the ambassador said was suitable for travellers, Karunadasa said the country was ranked by a US journal as one of the top tourist destinations around the globe.
Cultural sites, beaches and wildlife are among the many attractions of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has listed 39 tourist destinations around the country, including three national parks – Bundala, Wilpattu, and Yala.
Arugam Bay is a popular destination for surfers, the SLTDA said. Also, Bentota is famous for its golden beaches, while Unawatuna is popular for scuba diving, surfing and seafood delights.
Aside from tourism, the ambassador said he plans to bring investments into the country by tapping retail companies in Qatar such as Grand Mart, LuLu and Safari Mall, as well as financial institutions such as Doha Bank.
Karunadasa said he was expecting a delegation from Grand Mart and LuLu to visit Sri Lanka. “If Doha Bank goes to Sri Lanka, then other industries from Qatar may follow. Rather than just looking at Europe as an investment destination, companies in Qatar and other countries can consider bringing their businesses to Sri Lanka.
“What we are going to do is promote trade between Qatar and Sri Lanka. I am waiting for a delegation from Grand Mart, which is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka soon. LuLu is in the pipeline as I have suggested that they also do some trade links with us, as well as another potential investor, Safari Mall,” the ambassador said.
According to Karunadasa, the Sri Lankan government is strengthening its drive to generate more jobs in the country by attracting investors.
“The only concern for the Sri Lankan government is how many jobs will be generated from foreign investments and how it can develop the country’s economy. You must have the confidence to attract investments. We have a strong investment climate in Sri Lanka today.
“The government provides access to land because of enhanced land reform laws, and offers up to five years’ tax holiday depending on the size of the business,” he said.