SL Enters the global map as best travel destination Comments Off on SL Enters the global map as best travel destination 464

Sri Lanka with its unique blend of diverse culture, bio diversity and friendly people enters the global map as The Best Travel destination and retains its proud identity despite recent setback following 4/21 destruction of life and property. The Lonely Planet – the best-selling magazine featured Sri Lanka in 2019 – 10 years after a sustained upbeat in tourism nearly three decades after ending conflict in 2009.

Sri Lanka - Lonely PlanetThe country that was torn by war has entertained 2.4 million tourists by the end of 2018 benefiting nearly 300,000 direct and indirect employment and livelihoods,. A large number of them being small and medium entrepreneurs engaged in supply chain activities, investments in the development of leisure facilities, transport and logistics, urban and rural property development. This sector also accounted for USD 4.2 billion in foreign exchange earnings marginally lower than the country’s single largest industrial export income of USD 5.3 billion from textile and garment exports. In 2009, this now buoyant industry accounted for a mere USD 349 million.

The Lonely Planet ranked Sri Lanka as a top country to visit in 2019, stating “Already notable to intrepid travellers for its mix of religions and cultures, its timeless temples, its rich and accessible wildlife, its growing surf scene and its people who defy all odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict, this is a country revived.” The Lonely Planet recognises new highways and railroads help connecting critical areas of the country. It has also recognized that Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is developing properties around the island with more international hospitality brands.

Tourist interest in beaches are expanding to places like Tangalle, and going beyond popular places like Unawatuna and Weligama. Another attraction highlighted in the best-selling Lonely Planet Magazine is the train between Nanuoya and Ella passing through the hill country area beautified with the lavishness of tea plantation and natural environment. The ancient ruins of Anuradhapura with a wider attraction to the sacred Ruwanweliseya Stupa built in 140BC during which time Buddhism had flourished to its peak. The country’s history is enriched with leaders so devoted to empowering the island by Buddhist philosophy and culture with massive stupas and temples.

Lonely-Planet--02Economically the culture was supported by agriculture with amazing engineering talents to create its agricultural infrastructure with tanks and canals. The Sacred Temple of the Tooth is the holy place protecting the Tooth Relic of Load Buddha which is another attraction for visiting tourists. Both Anuradhapura and Kandy are two of the most holy places visited by many Sri Lankans as well. Showcasing the cultural extravaganzas every August the Trustees of Tooth of the Temple of the Tooth hold the Kandy Essla Perahera. Peradeniya Botanical Garden – the largest and oldest botanical garden in the country introduces the glamour to make Kandy which has been around for several 100 years as a tourist city.

The Eastern Tourism corridor spanning from Yala to Kuchchaveli through Pasikuda and Arugam bay is well known for the best waves in Sri Lanka. Surfing enthusiasts enjoy this area from April to October.

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Speculative Bubble In the Making 0 603

By : Kenneth De Zilwa

                                              Source: Thomsonreuters & Authors Calculation

The stock market rally can be put into context by analyzing its market capitalizations as percentage and Gross Fixed Capital Formations as a percentage  of GDP

The long term Market Capitalization as percentage indicates that that the Global markets as overbought and that a correction is in order.

The previous three occasion were 1997-1999 the Japan Asset bubble in and US banking crisis in trigged the fall. In 2000-2001 it was the US dotcom bubble and finally in 2007-2008 the US mortgage and derivative bubble.

Growing demand for urban TRANSPORT STRATEGY 0 548

An efficient, modern and clean public transport connectivity is essential for a country, before we think of isolated link of Monorails link without public transport network system to fill the gap. Public investment in such assets is now becoming essential given the use of private transport and the rising cost of fuel imports. It is estimated that the split of the public passenger transport (bus and railways) in Sri Lanka has reduced from 65 percent in 2010 to 44 percent in 2018 leading to urban traffic congestion (Figure-1).

The estimated cost of this shift has increased from LKR 400 million in 2011 to LKR 2.2 billion in 2018. The worst impact of ad-hoc pricing policy on private motor vehicles (Motorcars, three wheelers and motorcycles) and fuel in 2015 illustrated by the operational vehicle fleet increased from 2.52 million in 2010 to 5.70 million in 2018. It should be noted that operational fleet of 3.90 million in 2014 increased and to 4.53 million in 2015 which is a 16 percent annual increase which was also the highest annual incise in the Sri Lankan history as a result of low fuel pricing and reduction in import tariffs on vehicles in 2015.

Factors Displacing Public Transport

Many considerations have influenced the displacement of public transport and among them,

01. The fuel pricing reduction that was introduced in 2015 witnessed the increase in petrol consumption of the transport sector from 885 million litres in 2014 to 1,329 million litres in 2015 accounting for a 50 percent annual increase, which encouraged increased use of private vehicles (Figure-2). The increase of private vehicles on the roads reduced the average vehicle speed in Colombo Metropolitan Area from 21 km per hour in 2010 to 8.2 km per hour in 2018 (main road corridors of CMA).

02. The vehicle taxation policy too increased the importation of hybrids from 115, 215 in 2011 to 172,434 in 2018 which amounts to 33 percent of the operational motor car fleet. The operated vehicle kms also increased by four fold from 2011 to 2018.

03. What is noticeable is that public transportation as provided by the railway and passenger bus services, has not improved in their service quality in keeping with per capita GDP growth during the same period.

All these are inherent weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s economic management thought process which gives rise to several short-term problems.

01. High cost of fuel and vehicle imports costing USD 1,625 million in 2018 of the reported in trade deficit of USD 10, 800 million in 2018.

02. The rising import cost and falling reserves were the two major challenges in managing foreign exchange.

03. Heavy urban traffic costing travel time and fuel waste thereby impacting labour productivity.

In the backdrop of a looming BOP crisis, despite the low fuel prices since 2014, the government in 2018 introduced import restrictions by way of imposing 200 percent cash deposit margins and high tariff based on vehicle weight.

Therefore what is needed in this hour, is an innovative package of solutions to be executed at national level for transport management through effective fiscal policies for private motorist, and fuel prices based on the reflective economic cost for the private mode of transport. Those who use road network space during peak hours should pay the road user cost, determined by the cost of the given trip. Further, the public transport system such as Bus Rapid Transport Network (BRT), and the feeder mode of public transport should be linked to high demand BRT corridors and railway networks with facilities for parking and using public transport to reach their destinations. In addition, an integrated traffic management system for urban road networks with less human intervention should be formulated.

The BRT, and high density rail solution should be considered only if there 35,000 passenger movements in a given corridor. If the passenger movements are between 15,000 to 35,000 then the BRT and corridors with less than 10,000 passenger movement should be provide appropriate modes of public transport systems. It is utmost urgent to have a transport hub to facilitate with network improvement to provide parking facilities for private motorists to switch to public transport system. The National Road network should also be improved based of the demand of the public transport network.

By: Dr. D. S. Jayaweera

Transport Economist/ Financial Analyst