Home / FT View/ Branding for tourism

Branding for tourism


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Friday, 24 August 2018 00:00


New country branding for Sri Lanka Tourism will be unveiled at the World Travel Mart (WTM) in London in November, with the ambitious project expected to fill a much needed gap in local marketing efforts that has existed for years. 

One of the key problems repeatedly highlighted by the industry is the lack of accurate data. For years, the Government has been releasing numbers that do not differentiate between the formal and informal sectors adequately enough to understand how many foreigners are tourists, where they stay, how much they spend, and their level of expectations. Without in-depth data, policymakers cannot understand the direction the industry should take, which affects the entire value chain.

Sans in-depth data, Sri Lanka has been floundering around for years without a solid branding and marketing strategy. Sri Lanka lacks a cohesive marketing strategy and campaign which should be a mutually-agreed private-public partnership. There are various promotional exhibitions that have taken place in foreign capitals in the past, but they are not based on a master plan to promote the market destination. There is much more work that needs to be done in this area.

Even target group marketing is lacking and the country’s slogan has veered from ‘Land Like No Other’ to  ‘Small Miracle’ to ‘Wonder of Asia’ without clearly communicating the island’s competitive advantage. Singapore, for example, changed to ‘Your Singapore’ to underpin its strengths as a destination. The re-branding was accompanied by a change in the offerings to tourists with the introduction of Formula One racing, casinos, and other night entertainments. The rebranding focused on the experience of a tourist that could be personalised – sound, tastes, sights and user-centricity. Branding a destination has to be a carefully thought-out exercise based on the competitive strength and strategic position vis-à-vis that of the competitors. It is on this basis that countries have branded their tourism. 

For example, Greece – ‘A Masterpiece You Can Afford’, Canada – ‘Keep Exploring’, Malaysia – ‘Truly Asia’, Bulgaria – ‘A Discovery to Share’, India – ‘Incredible India’, Vietnam – ‘A Different Orient’, Maldives – ‘Always Natural’, and so on. Then there is the eternal argument over where Sri Lanka should price itself and where it should source tourists from. Many tourism analysts have pointed out that Colombo’s minimum room rate is prohibitive and should be loosened so market forces can decide the best rates. However, the companies have steadfastly refused, and with new properties and apartments coming into the market over the next few years, the possibility of a price bubble evolving in Colombo is high. Tourists could take the option of avoiding Colombo altogether, thereby impacting the revenue of other businesses. 

High-spending tourists are the desire of the industry. However, Sri Lanka is internationally known as a budget destination and would require a massive increase in the quality of products on offer to compete with destinations like Thailand. Tourism also faces a huge challenge in terms of human resources and will not be able to attract high-spending tourists consistently if it does not raise service levels exponentially in a short period of time. 

Hopefully, the new branding strategy will propel Sri Lanka’s tourism industry to where it deserves to be in the next few years.


Share This Article


DISCLAIMER:

1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.

COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

Untruth is the crisis

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Political language, said George Orwell, is designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Dr. Sarath Amunugama is the subject of this essay. In addition to his current incarnation of a p


Rise, Sri Lankans – our country needs you now!

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

I am sick, tired and bloody fed up of reading and listening to pessimistic tales of woe on the unprecedented crisis we and our country are facing at this dark moment in time. I am also fed up to the back teeth with reading and listening to lamentatio


Ranil abused and subverted parliamentary democracy

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

TIME: What was the immediate reason for calling an election? President Kumaratunga: I was forced into it by a total breakdown of cohabitation in Government. The Prime Minister (Ranil Wickremesinghe) was determined to harass me and chase me out. He ha


The Bench must ensure that the judges will continue to be trusted

Monday, 12 November 2018

In the backdrop of the recent developments and the strong arguments that have been presented against the dissolution of Parliament saying the President has no constitutional power to do so, before four and a half years into a Parliamentary term, as s


Columnists More