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Adani Group in Talks with Sri Lankan Authorities for Airport Management Contracts, Confirms Tourism Minister

The Sri Lankan Tourism Minister has confirmed that discussions between the Adani Group and Sri Lankan authorities are underway regarding modalities, potentially involving management contracts for three airports in the island nation. These airports include the prominent Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, along with Ratmalana Airport and Mattala Airport.

Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Tourism, Land, Sports, and Youth Affairs, disclosed on Friday that negotiations are ongoing between the two parties, with the possibility of management contracts being part of the arrangement.

Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, being the primary international gateway, holds significant importance in Sri Lanka’s aviation infrastructure. The inclusion of Ratmalana Airport and Mattala Airport, the latter famously recognized as the world’s emptiest international airport seven years ago, further underscores the scope of the potential collaboration.

In an interview with Businessline at the OTM travel show in Mumbai, Fernando stated, “There are plans to work with Adani Group for the management of airports.”

The initiative to engage a private partner for airport management emerges against the backdrop of a tourism resurgence in Sri Lanka. Foreign tourist arrivals doubled to 1.48 million in 2023, exerting pressure on the country’s airport infrastructure. The involvement of a private partner is anticipated to facilitate infrastructure expansion and enhance the overall passenger experience.

The Adani Group, which already operates a portfolio of eight airports in India, including the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport, has not yet responded to inquiries regarding the negotiations with Sri Lankan authorities.

If finalized, the agreement would mark Adani Group’s inaugural venture into overseas aviation. The conglomerate is already active in Sri Lanka’s ports and renewable energy sector. Notably, in November last year, the group secured a $553 million funding from the US International Development Finance Corporation for its west container terminal project in Colombo, a move perceived as a counterbalance to Chinese influence in the region.

Fernando also highlighted the positive trajectory of tourism growth, with India constituting the largest source market, accounting for 37 per cent of all arrivals in 2023. As part of its marine tourism policy, Sri Lanka aims to attract affluent Indians to berth their yachts at local marinas.

Fernando expressed optimism about surpassing tourism targets, aiming for 2.3 million visitors in 2024 and setting sights on attracting four million visitors by 2030. The government is actively fostering new investments in the hospitality sector and formulating policies such as homestay regulations to further bolster the tourism infrastructure.

Reflecting on Sri Lanka’s economic resurgence, Fernando emphasized the government’s commitment to public-private partnerships as pivotal for sustained growth, drawing inspiration from successful models in India. With burgeoning reserves and a vision for extensive development projects, Sri Lanka is poised for substantial growth in the coming years. Source –

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