The industry is building vessels of varying types and specifications for customers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Middle East and south Asian countries like India as well as Australia and New Zealand.
“Our advantage is our strategic location and highly trained labour force,” Fernando said, adding that the industry has exported 700 boats to Europe competing with European builders.
Barriers to growth were diminishing with the government giving incentives to exporters and the end of restrictions on navigation imposed during the 30-year ethnic war which ended in 2009.
Potential areas for investment include building marinas to park boats for both local and foreign owners, Fernando said, adding that the ministry of commerce was providing support to set up marinas and boat parks with modern facilities.
“We also aim to attract the local elite to own boats,” Fernando said.
Earnings from boat exports have been rising rapidly since the first boat show in 2008 when the island earned 22 million US dollars to 58 million dollars in 2009, and almost 150 million dollars in 2011, said Export Development Board chairman Janaka Ratnayake.