The tow-day Asia Pacific Yachting Conference, which coincided with the Singapore Yacht Show, was attended by a delegation from the Sri Lanka Government. A prominent speaker at the conference, and at the Asia Boating Forum that followed, was Managing Director of Marina Lanka (Pvt) Limited Simon Arrol.
The theme of the conference was how to develop yachting and nautical tourism across the region. Although Sri Lanka is at the extreme west of the Asia Pacific Region, Simon Arrol’s presentation emphasised its strategic position for yachts passing from east to west and vice-versa. Arrol explained how Sri Lanka’s infrastructure is being planned to capture this opportunity through the provision of marinas, and how the country’s boat building artisans will in due course be able to offer repair and maintenance services to such yachts. The possibility of superyachts cruising around the island’s coastline was also discussed.
“The Asia Pacific is the world’s growth area for superyacht activity since Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and the Philippines more than 7,000”, says Arrol. “Therefore, Sri Lanka needs to be equipped to attract passing yachts to stopover, enjoy the island, and carry out repairs and maintenance.”
Simon Arrol’s company Arrol Marina Consultancy is the world’s No.1 independent marina consultancy firm. During the past 25 years he has specialized in the design, development, and operation of yacht marinas, working on assignments in 39 countries. Drawing on this wide experience, Arrol and his colleagues have identified a number of sites in Sri Lanka suitable for marina and waterfront development and these are being progressed through the One Stop Unit of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.
Marina Lanka had a prominent exhibition display during CHOGM 2013 and HRH Prince Charles met the management team at one of the receptions. Arrol’s project in Malta, Grand Harbour Marina, was opened by HM The Queen during CHOGM 2005 and HM will be in Malta again for CHOGM 2015.
Arrol formed Marina Lanka with Sebastian Devonshire, an architect and experienced yachtsman, and industrialist Indhra Kaushal Rajapaksa.
Marina Lanka has provided technical support to the first two mini-marinas (yachting stations) in Sri Lanka, at Mirissa and Beruwala. “The installation of yachting stations inside existing fishery harbors encourages yachts to cruise the coastline,” says Arrol.
“Establishment of the necessary infrastructure is the key to building a strong nautical tourism industry in Sri Lanka,” says Rajapaksa. “In time to come, yachts could be docking at marinas along the island’s coastline and the crew and passengers could be visiting places such as Dambulla, Sigiriya or Kandy while their boats are being serviced or repaired. As a fledgling industry, nautical tourism needs strong government support to get it off the ground.”