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‘Sri Lanka sees public-private partnerships with Jordan as key to boosting ties in tourism, economy’

By Mohammad Ghazal - Feb 04,2017 - Last updated at Feb 04,2017

AMMAN — Public-private partnerships are essential to tap the huge potential for increased cooperation between Jordan and Sri Lanka in tourism and economic fields, according to Sri Lankan Ambassador Abdul Latiff Lafeer.

As the embassy celebrates Sri Lanka’s 69th independence day on Sunday, the ambassador highlighted tourism and investments sectors as key areas, where public-private partnerships between both countries can help increase cooperation.

Sari Lanka is eyeing more cooperation with Jordan and the region as it is working on a strategy to increase its exports to $20 billion by 2020, and increase the number of tourists visiting the country annually to 3 million, with plans for building thousands of hotel rooms to add to the current 40,000 rooms, said the diplomat.

“Around 8,000 Jordanians visited Sri Lanka in 2016, which is a slight increase compared to the year before, and this can be increased,” Lafeer told The Jordan Times in a recent interview.

“More needs to be done, and more public-private partnerships are needed to boost the number both ways… Jordan is a holy land, and it has many holy sites.... It can attract tourists with better and thoroughly-studied marketing and promotion,” said the ambassador.

Sri Lanka is recognised as one of the 34th world biodiversity hotspots in the world. Around 13 per cent of Sri Lanka is conserved as national parks, reserves, sanctuaries and jungle corridors, he added.

“Jordan, at the same time, needs to do more marketing and promotion…. Jordan is home to many tourist attractions, and partnerships between the two sectors in both countries can help make cooperation and promotion more effective.”

To help promote tourism cooperation, an exchange of delegations of media professionals and officials is scheduled for this year, said Lafeer.

Sri Lanka and Jordan, which established diplomatic ties in 1965, have a potential also to boost trade exchange and mutual investments, he added.

The island nation is focusing on economic diplomacy at this stage and is keen on increased economic cooperation to realise prosperity for all.

Sri Lanka is embarking on a $40 billion investment project to create a new hyper city with a new financial district, the ambassador noted, stressing that there is potential for Jordanian businesspeople to invest there.

Trade exchange between the two countries was at around $52 million in 2016.

Sri Lanka is also ready and keen on sharing its expertise in fighting terrorism with Jordan and other countries to address the issue, the diplomat noted.

According to the ambassador, there are around 12,000 Sri Lankan workers in Jordan, of whom 95 per cent work in the garment industry.

Lafeer added that Sri Lanka did not ban sending its nationals to work as domestic helpers sector, but it has discouraged this.

“Our economy is growing, and the unemployment rate is around 4 per cent, according to the latest figures. We need the workers to stay in Sri Lanka,” he added.

The ambassador said a memorandum of understanding will be signed this year between the University of Jordan and the University of Peradeniya for academic cooperation.

 

In addition, a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the customs authorities of the two countries on the transfer of technical know-how and sharing expertise to prevent smuggling.

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