Sri Lanka’s virtual boat show commences 

Virtual Boat Show Sri Lanka 2021 commenced yesterday (25) providing a single platform for all related business sectors involved directly and indirectly in the boat and shipbuilding industry and nautical tourism sector. 

The virtual show was organised by the Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute (BTI) and the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB), in association with the Ministry of Trade and the show is to take place till this Friday (29). 

This show is also expected to promote respective sectors for potential international and local clients while providing initiation for the recreational boating culture in Sri Lanka. This event will be the first-ever virtual boat show in Sri Lanka organised to showcase the country’s capabilities in recreational boating and yachting, nautical tourism, boat building, and related services for export and local markets. 

Following the success of Boat Show Sri Lanka 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 held physically, the upcoming Virtual Boat Show Sri Lanka 2021 will attract a large number of buyers and visitors, boating enthusiasts, and industry professionals from countries such as India, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Seychelles, the Maldives, South Korea, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Holland, and the UK.  

Boat and ship building is a lucrative and thriving industry that was capitalised on by the western world during the previous decade. The centre for manufacturing boats is now moving towards developing countries from the developed countries mainly due to the competitive labour costs and the skilled and highly trainable workforce offered by these countries. The increasing demand for boats worldwide for fishing, industrial, commercial, and recreation purposes open up huge opportunities and new markets for boat building in Sri Lanka, due to its strategic location, highly trainable workforce, and labour cost advantage. 

The Boat Building Technology Improvement Institute (BTI), which was formed in 2006 to represent the boat and shipbuilding and allied industry, initiated several major strategies to develop the industry in Sri Lanka to take advantage of the opportunities available in the export market and the nautical tourism sector. BTI started its training and technology improvement centre in 2006 and trained over 200 master boat builders and around 1,000 boat-building workers. In 2008, BTI initiated the boat show in Sri Lanka for the first time in Sri Lanka to showcase the country’s manufacturing capabilities in boat and ship building and continued to organise this marketing event regularly. In the year 2010, the EDB and the Ministry of Industries too joined as co-organisers of the Boat Show Sri Lanka. 

The EDB identifies the boat building industry as a key product sector that contributes to achieving the national export targets of the country, with the participation of the industry, and formulated an export strategy for the industry that is being implemented. 

Since the beginning of the Boat Show Sri Lanka, the country has been able to record an average export turnover of $ 80 million. 2011 recorded the highest so far with a figure of $ 149 million. The National Export Strategy aims to increase the export revenue to the value of $ 500 million. 

The wide range of products and services offered from this sector includes yachts, pleasure and leisure boats, fishing boats, fast attack crafts, passenger, sports, rescue, coast guard and patrol boats, and boat-building accessories. There are around 25 active boatyards around the country, out of which 10 to 12 boatyards have medium to large-scale manufacturing facilities and others are small-scale manufacturers. Sri Lanka’s main export markets for ships and boats are Singapore, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, the Maldives, the African region, and Mauritius.