Sri Lanka to clear barriers to yacht-based tourism

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Promotion Bureau is in the process of clearing barriers to marine tourism, including leisure activities on yachts, Managing Director Nalin Perera said.

Yacht cruise operators have earlier complained that a specified International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) requirement by Sri Lanka’s Directorate of Merchant Shipping which was not demanded by countries like Thailand or Red Sea nations was blocking ‘live aboard’ cruises.

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One reason was that Sri Lanka did not have a proper classification criteria for marine tourism, Perera said.

“The classification has been finalized, but there are few areas we are getting the ADB assistance to clear that one up,” Perera said.

Sri Lanka has dozens of sunken wrecks which can be used to promote diving.

Sri Lanka is surrounded by the sea, but the island neither has a domestic yatch culture, nor yacht based tourism activities like liveaboard diving cruises.

Yacht cruise operator Aggressor found itself mired in regulations when it tried to start the industry, including requirements for local crew.

The firm said without a domestic industry there were no trained crew to hire on the island.

Sri Lanka wants to promote a range of marine linked tourism activities as well wider use of yachts including attracting owners to park their luxury yachts in Sri Lanka, Tourism Minister Fernando said.