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Sri Lanka Tourism gains momentum at IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair 2018 in Paris

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Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) along with a contingent of 30 travel trade representatives and a delegation led by Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga, made their presence felt at the 40th landmark anniversary edition of the IFTM TOP RESA 2018 travel fair held in Paris, France from 25-28 September. 

The Sri Lanka delegation at IFTM TOP RESA was led by Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in France Buddhi Athauda, Monitoring MP Tourism Harshana Rajakaruna, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) Managing Director Suthaesh Balasubramaniam, SLTPB Assistant Director – French market Sarnagi Thilakasena and other representatives from Ministry of Tourism and Embassy of France. The official stand opening ceremony was held at Sri Lanka stand no. M010 on 25 September under the auspices of the Minister of Tourism, Sri Lanka delegation, tourism officials, media and special invitees.  

Sri Lanka at 40th edition of IFTM TOP RESA 2018  

Speaking at the stand opening ceremony, Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga mentioned the significance of the French market to Sri Lanka’s travel trade as a key European market which is growing on a year-on-year basis. “France is a key strategic market for Sri Lanka and we constantly urge the industry to ensure value for money packages are given to the French market and further assure that all French tourists are given professional attention and be receptive to make their stay pleasant in Sri Lanka.”

He further highlighted the recent government decision to grant VAT refunds for purchases made by the tourists during their stay which was applauded by many French tour operators and the industry experts. The Vat refund is granted at the BIA at the time of the departure through a specially established counter.

Ambassador Buddhi Athauda mentioned that Sri Lanka is a country of varied facets and a destination beyond comparison to any other country in the world. The Embassy is fully geared to meet the inquiries and requests made by the travel trade in France and working towards achieving the goals in the French market. Sri Lanka is all set to cross the 100,000 French arrivals this year with the support of the travel agents and tour operators in both countries.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Tourism made it the opportunity to recognise achievements of key tourism stakeholders during the IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair. Connaissance de Ceylan founder Chandra Wickramasinghe, who is one of the senior travel trade professionals who has immensely contributed to the trade, was recognised for his contribution of 35 years to develop the French market for Sri Lanka. A token of appreciation and a memorabilia was handed over to him by the Minister of Tourism and Monitoring MP in appreciating his long-standing efforts in the French market. Receiving the accolade, Wickramasinghe highlighted that it is a lifetime achievement and a great honour to be recognised for his contribution in the French market and he certainly feels proud to hold this achievement for Sri Lanka.

Being in the 40th landmark year of IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair, Sri Lanka Tourism presented a memento to Reed Expositions France CEO Federic Lorin to mark the 40th anniversary celebration and to recognise the cooperation extended by Reed Expo, the official travel fair organiser to destination Sri Lanka promotions at the IFTM Travel Fair. 

The delegation led by the Minister participated in further business meetings, exclusive media interviews, and airline meetings during the travel fair to expand Sri Lanka’s presence.

The expo is being held for the 40th consecutive year of which Sri Lanka has taken part in 38 occasions. The magnificent Sri Lankan pavilion vividly depicted the many a facets of the destination which are key attractions to the tourists. The pavilion theme was to showcase Sri Lanka as a destination of natural wonders, highlighting various tourism attractions the country has to offer. Sri Lankan cultural dance performances by Sri Desi dance troupe added much colour to the overall country presentation at the fair. Sri Lanka pavilion also welcomed the SriLankan Airlines counter, Tea Counter and Gem and Jewellery counters apart from travel trade representations this year.

Publicity campaign at IFTM TOP RESA 2018 

Sri Lanka Tourism maximised the exposure at the IFTM Travel Fair being featured at IFTM Daily Official Travel fair Magazine, IFTM Official Catalogue and advertising on outdoor panels of the fair grounds to enhance the destination presence. One full page interview of the Minister was featured on the Day 01 edition of IFTM Daily Magazine highlighting the new developments and Sri Lanka’s potential in the French market. The official magazine carried full page advertisements of Sri Lanka on all three days including the official show catalogue. Sri Lankan advertisements were posted on the outdoor panels on the fair grounds ensuring highest visibility for destination attractions. 

Launch of the digital marketing campaign for France 

The world renowned travel trade expo IFTM TOP RESA aims to exceed 100,000 arrivals from France this year heavily supported by a fully-fledged digital media campaign. The official agreement between Sri Lanka Tourism and Interface Tourism France was signed during IFTM Travel Fair to mark the commencement of a six-month digital media campaign in the French market. Sri Lanka Tourism Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramanium and Interface Tourism – France Managing Director Blaise Borezee signed the contract on behalf of the two organisations. 

The digital campaign will be implemented in full thrust in the French market in the next six months covering key travel segments and targeted audience in order to generate a high level of destination engagement among the potential online based travel decision makers. The digital campaign was one of the most sought-after marketing tools to be launched in France being on par with modern day marketing strategy followed by other competitive destinations. The campaign will boost Sri Lanka’s visibility in digital platforms in France which is seen as a massive contribution for destination promotions. Many Sri Lankan travel trade experts endorsed the move as being timely.

Overall, Sri Lanka Tourism gained momentum at the 40th Edition of IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair, unveiling a fully-fledged marketing strategy for the French market and endorsing the events with a high level of destination branding and visibility. IFTM travel fair and allied events generated many opportunities for promoting Sri Lanka among French travellers. At a juncture where the country is targeting to attract more than 2.5 visitors in total before the end of the year 2018, a greater contribution is expected from Western European countries including France due to high revenue and high value generated by tourists arriving from Western Europe.  

Enchanting Lanka presented to French media

A section of the audience at the press conference


Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs and Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau invited premium media, travel evangelists and highly sought-after travel influences from France to a high profile press conference held at the ‘members only’ Cercle de l’Union Interalliée at 33, rue du Faubourg St-Honoré in Paris, France on Monday 24 September. 

The press conference was held under the patronage of Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga of Sri Lanka, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in France Buddhi Athauda, Sri Lanka Tourism Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam and other official representatives from Sri Lanka and France. 

The Minister addressing the media highlighted, “Sri Lanka is an island of all possibilities: Relaxation on the beaches of white sands, water sports, trekking, walks in the green tea plantations, even incredible safaris to meet elephants or leopards, etc.” He added that Sri Lanka is becoming one of the leading destinations for French travellers with arrivals from France surging to 81,000 up to August this year and expected to cross 100,000 mark for the first time in the history before end of 2018. 

Ambassador of Sri Lanka in France Buddhi Athauda addressing the media ensured that the Embassy of France is fully geared to support the tourism promotions and highlighted the country’s various facets which tourists can explore and experience.Sri Lanka Tourism Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramaniam made a fully-fledged presentation of destination Sri Lanka to the French media at the event highlighting all products and experiences the country has to offer to avid travellers. 

The delegation also took time to respond to questions raised by the media at the end of the event on various topics. 

The high profile event was attended by more than 120 guests representing leading media, travel evangelists, influences, bloggers, etc. from leading media houses, magazines, newspapers, radio channels, TV channels in France. Media houses including Europe 1 TV, Elle Magazine, France TV, Huffington Post, Gala Magazine, LCI Television, Le Monde Magazine, Omega TV, Radio France, Radio Monte Carlo, Paris Match Magazine, Select Entertainment travel and Luxe – Magazine TV were present at the occasion. 

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