Stamps are a very effective communications tool to promote tourism. With the rich cultural and religious background and the number of places to visit in Sri Lanka, stamps provide a convenient mode to create awareness.
Seeing an attractive stamp on the cover of a letter makes anyone take a close look at it. One may argue that in this era of technology, letter-writing is nowhere near what it was a few years back. True – yet the practice of sending greeting cards, picture postcards, small packages and the like still continues.
It was heartening to read that July 2016 marked a milestone in Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals. It was reported that Sri Lanka hit an all-time high with 209,351 arrivals – a growth of nearly 20% in a month from the figure one year ago.
Tourism has figured as the theme for stamps on and off. The 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka Tourism was the most recent event when a stamp to promote tourism was released on 27 May. The Rs. 15 stamp depicted the special commemorative logo of the 50th anniversary. The colourful logo carries a series of symbols portraying the country’s heritage. The theme was continued in the First Day Cover with a series of pictures.
The Philatelic Bureau and Sri Lanka Tourism used the ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia’ theme to promote tourism with the release of ten stamps on 27 September 2011 to coincide with World Tourism Day. They were intended to promote Sri Lanka’s heritage, pristine glory, wildlife, nature, leisure and scenic beauty.
“There’s an exotic isle in Asia, where the traveller is guided by sheer instinct. Wake up to the call of indigenous birds. Drink deep from a babbling brook. Tack in the moist air of a rainforest. Spend an afternoon in the presence of snoozing leopards and bathing elephants. Watch an amorous peacock flaunt its plumage against the flaming sunset. Turn your gaze towards the ocean to witness pods of frolicking dolphins at play. Dive deep to discover multi-hued underwater gardens and silent shipwrecks. And as bight falls, end one adventure. Start another.” This is a quote from the Stamp Bulletin released with the stamps.
The UN-sponsored Tourism Day has been commemorated since 1980 s to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
The timing of World Tourism Day is particularly appropriate in that it comes at the end of the high season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the season in the southern hemisphere, when tourism is on the minds of millions of people worldwide.
Using the slogan ‘A Land like No Other’ used by the Ceylon Tourist Board in the 2000s a stamp was released in August 2002 featuring the ‘Sapu Mudra’ logo used at the time. It was an interpretation of the welcome gesture seen in the Sigiri graffiti – a visual expression of ‘Ayubowan’ expressing a sincere wish for a long and healthy life. The stamp depicts a female delicately holding a flower between the tips of her slender fingers as the expression of welcome.
On ‘Visit Sri Lanka’ theme, the Philatelic Bureau issued three stamps in September 2010 featuring the ‘Fantastic Beaches of Sri Lanka’. Three popular beaches in the eastern coast – Passikudah, Trincomalee and Arugam Bay – were selected for the stamps which were released along with mini-cards with panoramic views of each site with a small map on the side indicating the exact location of each.
Trincomalee, famed as a natural harbour with a beautiful view from Swami Rock, has a sea beach extending to Nilaveli and Uppuveli. Passikudah north of Batticaloa is favoured by surfers and water-skiers. Arugam Bay situated south of Batticaloa is noted for prawns and for surfing.
These beaches are very popular among the local tourists too and with the end of the north-east war, large numbers visit them. Lodging facilities are aplenty and these beaches are providing a huge boost to the tourist industry.
Stamps promoting tourism are high-value ones intended to be used mainly for overseas mail.