Sri Lanka aims to be South Asian shopper paradise

Mar 10, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s biggest state bank has proposed a bold project to make the island a Dubai-style duty free shopping mecca for the billion-plus consumers on the Indian sub-continent. Gamini Wickramasinghe, chairman of Bank of Ceylon (BOC), said much revenue can be generated by enticing visitors from the region, exploiting the high frequency of flights connecting Indian cities with Colombo.

With the ethnic war drawing to a close, as the army is on the verge of crushing Tamil Tiger rebels, the proposed duty free shopping complex could serve to promote the island as a safe destination.

“What we are proposing is duty free shopping as there are about 140 flights a week to India,” Wickramasinghe said.

He was speaking on the topic of gaining synergies through business integration at the 26th LBR-LBO CEO forum held recently for a large group of senior corporate executives at the Cinnamon Grand hotel.

“With the war ending there would be more people coming here, not only from the Indian sub-continent, but also other parts of the world.”

Sri Lanka’s tourist industry, which has long been in a slump because of the war, is expected to revive with the end of the conflict.