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Sri Lankan batik sector rebounds on tourism growth

15th Feb 2012

The growth of tourism industry in Sri Lanka has provided a boost to the country's batik industry. Experts foresee the country's batik sector to improve not only domestic sales to tourists but also their exports, especially to countries in the Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Explaining the downfall and rise of the Sri Lankan batik sector, Mr. Eric Suriyasena, Chairman of Eric Suriyasena Batiks Pvt. Ltd. told fibre2fashion, “Earlier the batik industry was doing quite well, but then it went down as we had certain problems in the northern and eastern regions.”

“Then again, when the industry gradually started improving, the low quality products started arriving from other countries, including India, and these products flooded the markets. In order to compete with them, our manufactures also started making low quality products. As a result, sarongs and ladies gowns were made using low quality dyes and designs. But now, things are getting better. We are promoting batik as an art and not as a cloth,” he adds.

Elaborating on the current scenario of batik market in Sri Lanka, he says, “The market is doing well and the export market is also picking up. Some of the Indian designers are also using batik in their high quality garments. Apart from garments, we are using batiks in various other articles like household linen viz. bed linen, table linen, etc.”

Mr. Suriyasena says a lot can be done to further improve the batik sector in Sri Lanka. He says, “The batik sector in Sri Lanka can be a US$ 1 billion industry if steps are taken to improve the sector. We want our Government to promote the industry by taking some measures similar to those adopted by some Southeast Asian countries.”

“In Malaysia and Indonesia, 5-7 ministries are backing their batik industry. They have made batik a national product in their countries. Every week, they have a batik day when people wear batik garments,” he informs.

“In addition to such measures, the Sri Lankan Government can also support us by helping us to get in touch with some good suppliers of quality products, which will enable us to make really good products, not only for the local market but also for exports,” he adds.

Informing about potential markets for Sri Lankan batik, he says, “If we develop good designs and good quality products, then we can get a really good market for batik products. Our clientele would be countries like Australia and the US. We have started promotions in Canada. India also has a good market for batik.”

Mr. Lishan Wickramanayake, Director, Prasanna Batiks, sums up, “The main reason for the batik industry to pick up is the improving tourism industry. We are also following the various fashionable trends in the world, so batik is no more a traditional item in Sri Lanka. Our export clientele would be India, Malaysia, China and other countries in Asia and Asia-Pacific regions.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India