Looking forward to speed up greater economic cooperation with India: Ranil Wickremesinghe

India's status as a rising economic giant and Sri Lanka's location as a strategic logistics hub will complement each other in driving forward the two economies, he said.
Ranil Wickremesinghe
Ranil Wickremesinghe(File| AFP)

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is looking to accelerate greater economic cooperation with India with the tourism sector taking the lead, the island nation's President Ranil Wickremesinghe said on Thursday.

India's status as a rising economic giant and Sri Lanka's location as a strategic logistics hub will complement each other in driving forward the two economies, he said while addressing the opening of Indian firm ITC Hotels' first overseas property, ITC Ratnadipa here.

"I have no doubt that this icon (ITC Ratnadipa) will help increase tourism into Sri Lanka, more particularly from India. Now these are part of the vision statement which Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and I signed last year on how do we integrate our economies and we get closer," Wickremesinghe said.

The economic background, the convertibility of Indian rupees, all have now been laid, he said, adding, "So this is the start. I think more than any other sector we identified this (tourism) is one which you can start."

He further said, "Information technology is another area that we will be moving fast on and there are many other projects that India and Sri Lanka will have here."

Highlighting how the two countries stood to gain from greater cooperation, he said,"India is now one of the rising economic giants and we, Sri Lanka, is in a crucial location for logistics, and next to India."

Specifically for the tourism sector, Wickremesinghe said, "I have no doubt that for many years, Sri Lanka will be the appropriate place to spend holiday. In time to come it would be easier for a person in Bengaluru, Chennai or Hyderabad to jump into a plane and come here than go to the northern part of India."

Referring to ITC's new hotel, which is one of the biggest investments in Sri Lankan hospitality sector by an Indian firm at around Rs 3,000 crore, he said,"I hope this will encourage many other hotels, many other companies from other parts of the world to come and invest here.

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