The country's long-awaited trade fair is likely to become a game changer for its international visitors due to Sri Lanka's competitive advantage in terms of strategic location, labour and infrastructure.
International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama addressing the Sri Lanka Expo 2012 Symposium in Colombo said that the country's key competitiveness was in its location, people and labour and its institutions and infrastructure. He pointed out that Sri Lanka has currently opened into the two growth areas of the North and the East. The country's key location on the world map, has the capability of reaching to key cities in India faster than those even in the sub continent, he said.
The minister pointed out that Sri Lankan labour has becoming increasingly attractive since it has now become cheaper than China. In reference to a JICA study, the minister said that the youth of Sri Lanka were easier to train compared to those in other countries. He also spoke of the key infrastructure projects in the country highlighting as these would show up more prominently in an island nation than in larger countries.
Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal addressing the gathering commenced by noting the political stability in the country today asserting that "someday when history is written there will be appreciation of rebuilding, reconciliation and transformation in Sri Lanka." He observed on the economic front the exchange rate was adopting a new method in the market and noted that most of the current infrastructure projects were initiated prior to the ending of the conflict.
The governor assured of achieving a US$4000 per capita income within the next three years with Foreign Direct Investments expected to rise to US$2 billion in 2012 effectively doubling from last year. United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Regional Head Xu Jing participating at the symposium indicated the growth in tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka and commended government plans of using this as a tool for increasing economic and social benefits and creating increased employment.
Asia is tipped to become one of the fastest growing sub regions in the world with a 5% increase in growth likely in Asia ad the Pacific by 2013. 2011 witnessed tourism growth in this region by 6% at 217 million international tourists. He said growth slowed down to 3-4% but remained confident of this industry's prospects of boosting employment and achieving the Rs 1 billion target.