The western medical sector video developed by the EDB
The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) identified the export value of Sri Lankan Ayurveda services back in 2013 and facilitated the International Trade Centre (ITC) to carry out a study on the Sri Lankan Health Tourism industry. The study identified the niche capabilities of the Sri Lankan Ayurveda and Wellness sector and the significance of synergy between the main two segments in terms of promotion (www.srilankabusiness.com/export-services/health-services/health-services-related-links.html).
As an eye-opener on the Ayurveda industry’s capabilities, the EDB organised the Ayurveda and Indigenous sector’s participation at the ‘Reflection of Sri Lanka’ exhibition held along the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2013.
|Promotional brochures developed by EDB
Several well-known global Sri Lankan Ayurveda resorts participated in this exhibition to increase the awareness of the general public and they appreciated the opportunity given to them to showcase their capabilities.
Furthermore, EDB created a separate webpage for the health sector through the EDB website by providing industry information and included the service offers and contacts of leading Ayurveda service providers as well in order to promote the sector through foreign buyers and medical and wellness travel companies.
These initiatives led the EDB to identify this health sector as a prominent export sector and in 2017 the sector was selected as the key focus sector in the National Export Strategy (NES).
The Wellness Tourism Strategy was developed as part of the NES of Sri Lanka, with the three main objectives outlined together with development and promotional activities in collaboration with Ayurveda, western medicine and tourism sector stakeholders.
The first objective concentrates on sector coordination and cohesion. Both the traditional wellness and western medicine segments require clusters to organise and improve cooperation of stakeholders. The second objective focuses on regulation and quality assurance through standardisation, licensing of activities and recognition of traditional healing in target markets and streamlining of institutional procedures. The third objective focuses on gathering more information on the sector through more effective collection of statistics and improved sharing of sector information, both to the local population and to customers in target markets.
Industry Expert Committee
As the apex body for developing and promoting exports, the EDB formed an Industry Expert Committee comprising stakeholders from the Department of Ayurveda, Ayurveda service export sector and western medical sector. Furthermore, a set of activities were planned in order to promote the sector. As the committee urged the need for collaterals to promote the sector, the EDB created the brochure ‘Sri Lankan Ayurveda’.
This brochure was created to promote the preventive and curative treatments of Sri Lankan Ayurveda and promote Sri Lankan health offerings for non-communicable diseases present in the western world. The EDB circulated the brochure through Sri Lanka missions in key target markets.
The EDB, in consultation with the industry, also created a video titled ‘Healer’s Paradise - Sri Lankan Ayurveda’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEJDsvnPEuw) and it appeared on the EDB website to provide industry insight and promote the video internationally free of charge.
This video was promoted through social media channels and the same was provided to the diplomatic officers in target markets with the aim of attracting medical and wellness travellers to Sri Lanka.
In 2016, the EDB invited the Medical Travel Quality Alliance (MTQUA) of the US to conduct a seminar on quality standards for the Health and Medical Tourism sector. The aim was to create awareness on the significance of standards in order to provide assurance for medical travellers on the quality of the service they obtain from Sri Lanka.
The concept of wellness tourism offers a broader spectrum of niche health and medical services inherited by Sri Lanka. However, the Ayurveda and Indigenous Medicine sector undoubtedly remains a major contributor to this wellness tourism service followed by a western medical service and other alternative medicines.
The sector achieved this position within a short period of time considering its contribution to the country’s export growth. Following the NES, the EDB formed the Wellness Tourism Advisory Committee comprising leading private sector stakeholders and relevant Government officials to drive sector-specific activities.
Aligning with the plan of action of the Wellness Tourism Strategy of the NES, the EDB sought tie-ups with world-renowned figureheads and was able to invite Linser Hospitality Managing Director Dr. Franz Linser, an internationally-renowned wellness tourism expert from Austria, for an awareness seminar in Colombo in early 2017.
In the latter half of 2017, the EDB invited Wellbeing Escape - UK founder Stella Photi in order to promote the sector in the UK market. The EDB facilitated Photi’s visit to leading Ayurveda resorts and allowed her to provide her expertise on promotion of the sector. Additionally, Photi assisted EDB to prominently promote the wellness sector’s Ayurveda services in the UK market.
EDB lays groundwork to develop wellness tourism strategy, national brand for SL
The EDB is now taking the initiative of developing a national brand for the Sri Lanka wellness tourism sector to position the sector internationally. The Market Development Facility (MDF) of Australia and the EU Delegation of Brussels are operating in collaboration with EDB to provide financial assistance to develop an international product, market and brand development initiative for the Sri Lanka wellness tourism sector by obtaining the services of Linser Hospitality Austria.
The EDB has laid the groundwork for developing an international wellness tourism strategy and a brand development initiative in 2020, to position the country as a leading player in the $ 2.6 trillion global wellness tourism industry, under the five-year NES.
The EDB procured the services of international consulting firm Linser Hospitality GMBH based in Austria to undertake a ‘Rapid Assessment of the Potential Wellness Tourism Industry in Sri Lanka’ with financial and technical assistance from the MDF.
The EDB facilitated leading Ayurveda resorts to participate at prominent trade events such as SIFTIS in China in May with financial assistance from ITC 2018 and Arab Health in the Middle East in January 2019 with financial assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Sri Lanka Tourism.
The EDB developed a video for the western medical sector with leading private hospitals. This video was made to address different market segments within the wellness tourism spectrum. The video is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPAah9RMGJI.
One of the major milestones was Sri Lanka’s participation at the WTM London organised by EDB with the assistance of the Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK and Sri Lanka Tourism in November 2019 as the Ayurveda sector’s first-ever participation at an international trade event.
The Sri Lanka pavilion was located in the Asian continent close to the Sri Lanka country pavilion, organised by Sri Lanka Tourism.
Six leading Ayurveda resorts participated in this event to promote their Ayurvedic offerings and treatments to the UK market and all companies had nearly 50-70 business meetings during this event at the exhibition premises with prospective buyers, travel agents, international magazines, etc. The pavilion, designed with the tagline of ‘Healers’ Paradise’, promoted the ‘Mind, Body and Soul’ concept which is the core component of Ayurveda.
The participants appreciated the assistance extended by EDB to promote the sector, especially to differentiate the health and wellness sector from general tourism with special emphasis on the Ayurveda sector.
A few leading international events are identified by the EDB to provide further promotions along with a digital marketing campaign in target markets. The establishment of the Sri Lanka wellness brand and global promotional campaign are in the pipeline. Furthermore, the EDB is the main facilitator behind the Wellness Tourism Association which is soon to be established.
The EDB identified wellness tourism, mainly Ayurveda and health services, as a key sector and initiated these international promotions to increase earnings from the service export sector. The EDB has created a platform for the different service segments to work together towards the economic development of the sector.
The EDB is also in collaboration with the Department of Ayurveda to develop national standards and regulations for Ayurveda private healthcare institutions to regulate the industry. According to this process, the Department of Ayurveda has now developed the ‘Draft Rules and Regulations on Traditional Medicine (Medical Tourism) Institutions’ under Section 10 of the Ayurveda Act, No. 31 of 1961.
By developing these standards, all private sector businesses i.e. private healthcare hospitals, clinics and wellness centres, which are carried out based on Ayurvedic principles, will be regulated by the Department of Ayurveda to ensure a safe and quality service for medical travellers.
Videos developed by EDB for the Ayurveda medical sector
MTQUA resource people at the seminar conducted by EDB