BOI-related, local investments rise in tourism, agriculture
Following an intensive campaign jointly undertaken by the BOI and the Ceylon Tourist Board (CTB), over 500 rooms are expected to be available for tourists by mid 2004 under the new Traditional Houses and Thematic Bungalows project.

Due to the special incentives offered by the BOI and CTB local investors have been encouraged to invest in the tourism industry by converting their traditional walauwa homes to tourist board approved accommodation, a BOI statement said.

"At the moment, the CTB has approved 27 bungalows with a total of 140 rooms, whilst nine properties are in the pipeline to be refurbished which will make available an additional 46 rooms, from a total of approx. 150 potential applicants," said Wansasiri Abeywickrema, Senior Manager, BOI, adding that there were as many as 500 interested investors who were ultimately short listed to about 150. "There has been great interest in this project following awareness programmes conducted in Kandy, Koggala, Trincomalee and Kurunegala," he said. Potential applicants were received from all provinces in the island except for the North/East.

Asoka Perera, Asst. Director, CTB said the programme was focused at the up-market FIT clientele (Free Individual Traveller) as it provided much needed privacy as well as exclusivity in the personal attention and service received. "We saw a definite dearth in private residential accommodation, and these traditional houses and thematic bungalows fill this vacuum, enabling the use of resources that are already available to the local investor, without requiring new construction," he said.

Some of the pilot projects include the Meegastenne Maha Walauwa in Katugasthota, the Dimbulanamura Walauwa in Wellawaya, the Bonnieland Bungalow in Badulla and the Sulugalkanda Bungalow in Ibbagamuwa, off Dambulla.
Meanwhile BOI Manager Shantha Jayasinghe said there has been renewed interest amongst locals in investing in the agriculture sector following special incentives granted by the BOI in collaboration with the Perennial Crop Development Project of the Ministry of Agriculture.

There have been over 300 potential applications in this sector. "The interest is spread out across the island including the North and East Provinces too," she said. Some of the projects include horticulture, agro processing, growing of fruits and vegetables including bananas, strawberries, bell pepper, iceberg lettuce, mushrooms and maize, as well as coconut plantations.

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