The marketing team of the Hambantota International Port Group (HIPG) visited Japan during the last week of August, to increase awareness and aggressively market services offered by the Hambantota International Port (HIP), especially RORO which is currently the core business of the port.
The HIPG team lost no time in taking advantage of the first opportunity that presented itself post travel restrictions being lifted, to meet with the Sri Lanka Automobile Association in Japan (SLAAJ) and Japan Used Motor Vehicle Exporters Association (JUMVEA) to promote HIP as an ideal transshipment hub. The leading used vehicle exporter opened up opportunities for the team to meet with Japan’s foreign ministry officials and other higher ups. The HIP team met with Yokohama Port president Shinsuke Itoh, and port officials with whom they had successful discussions to collaborate with HIPG for RORO Operations and related matters.
“The RORO Business expanded rapidly in the last few years owing to the highly efficient services the port provides and HIPG actively engaging with shipping lines and working together with them to bring in RORO cargo for transshipment via the port. However, we believe more needs to be done in positioning Sri Lanka, primarily because of our location, quality of service and the cost effectiveness of using HIP as a transshipment point. We were very happy to note the reception we received from shipping lines and exporters in Japan which was very positive. We did a thorough study before making the visit to identify the parties whom we should meet and discuss for results” says Bindu Ranasinghe, the Deputy General Manager, Commercial and Marketing, HIPG.
The team met with five shipping lines including the three major shipping lines engaged in RORO business, and discussed current business conditions, potential of HIP for RORO operations and the port’s future plans.
They also had discussions with used car exporters who showed interest in transshipment via HIP. In light of current challenges faced by RORO operators, the HIP team was able to drive home the advantages and benefits of transshipping via the port.
Tissa Wickramasinghe, Chief Operating Officer of HIPG said, “the primary objective of the tour was to expand our business avenues and the used car exporter segment is one such. We have observed the large numbers of vehicles being exported from Japan to Africa and the Middle East and wanted HIP to look for opportunities in this area. The Port has the advantage of having a large acreage of parking areas, which is unavailable in many other countries. This was a key point of attraction to the exporters and we are now exploring other opportunities to carry out Value Added Services at the port. Also, another new area of business that was discussed in detail was the availability of bunkering services for Ships passing Hambantota. HIP will pursue this new business opportunity with our strategic partner Sinopec Fuel Oil Lanka, and bring in more USD revenue to the country”.
“Our target is to increase the port’s transshipment volumes, taking advantage of its strategic location, high productivity and the quality of service offered,” the COO added.