Could attract Indian, SAARC shoppers going to
Weerawila should be a duty free centre
The proposed Weerawila airport could be made an even viable venture
if it can be used as a duty free centre and a hub for low cost carriers,
Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gamini
He said a duty free centre should be created to attract SAARC
tourists. Countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Dubai
have followed this example and are attracting US$ billions revenue to
their countries. In addition is also boost their tourism arrivals.
Tax holidays, long term credit facilities and other incentives should
be provided to investors who would open duty free facilities at
Weerawila. “The Government must create an environment where this duty
free centre would be the cheapest in the region,” he said.
“Shop owners like Mohamed Mustafa of Singapore should be invited to
Weerawila and then the other companies would follow. Many Indians travel
to Singapore only to shop at Mustafa’s and if this shop is available in
Weerawila, Indians will be more than happy to do their shopping there,”
“Weerawila will save them on airfare, time, and accommodation and
with the saving they can either purchase more goods or tour the
country,” he said. There is a growing Indian middle class that travel
frequently and steps should be taken to woo them.
With a top class Duty Free facility in place many domestic airlines
operating in India and other Asian countries would be keen to fly to
The ground breaking ceremony of the event took place on November 19.
Under the first phase, the Weerawila international airport would be able
to accommodate eight aircraft. It would also be the first airport in Sri
Lanka which would have the capability of landing the latest A380
The cost of the construction of the airport would be Rs. 1.2 billion
and is expected to be ready by 2011. Under this project, over 70,000
direct and indirect employment opportunities will be created.
The airport will comprise a 4000-metre runway and will provide
parking space for 14 aircraft at a time. In addition, a Customs
building, large hangar, AASL office and other modern facilities too
would be provided.
However a highway network is a must for the success of the Weerawila
airport project. “Any tourist or local landing in Weerawila would not
want to waste around seven hours to come to the City. The proposed
Colombo Matara expressway should be linked to the Weerawila terminal to
provide faster land access to the city,” he said.
In addition a rail system too has to be introduced and this is
currently on track with the extension from Matara to Kataragama.
The construction will be carried out with the latest technology under
the guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
There would also be direct air links between the Colombo
international airport and Weerawila.
Sri Lanka’s first airport in Ratmalana has been used to its maximum
capacity and commercial properties around the airport limits expansion.
However this airport too would be used for domestic flights. (SS)