- Plans to invest $ 190 m targeting eight source markets from mid-2020
- Cabinet approval sought to appoint PR, destination representation, digital, research companies till 2025
- Minister confident of Cabinet approval this week
- 2022 to be declared Visit Sri Lanka Year
By Charumini de Silva
A new five-year new Global Communication Campaign across eight target markets and declaration of 2022 as “Visit Sri Lanka Year” are among proposals Cabinet will consider this week, to give a fresh impetus to tourism impacted by the coronavirus and last year’s Easter Sunday tragedy.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga told the Daily FT new measures were urgently needed to revitalise the tourism industry, and expressed confidence that the Cabinet of Ministers will give their go-ahead.
He said that the campaign will be executed with only the funds of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), without seeking additional funds from the consolidated fund.
“We will make use of the Rs. 2.5 billion deposit of SLTPB fund to supplement the Budget required to run the global communication campaign. We are looking at a total budget of $ 190 million for the five-year campaign,” Ranatunga said.
The last integrated campaign of Sri Lanka Tourism was carried out during 2008/2009, and no such communication campaigns were carried out since then except a few stand-alone campaigns.
The Minister said the expected goal is to create a sense of urgency to visit the island in 2020 to 2025.
“Based on the past tourist arrival data, market insights average per person expenditure, and duration of stay, SLTPB has projected an organic growth of the industry and have done a forecasting to reach the targeted income of $10 billion with an arrival figure of six million tourists,” Ranatunga added.
He also pointed out that the Board of Directors of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), at its meeting held on 23 January, granted conceptual approval to carry out a Global Communication Campaign over a period of five years commencing mid-2020.
Accordingly, the Cabinet paper seek approval to appoint a local agency for public relations (PR), content development, social media, and web boosting, and incur an estimated cost of $ 1.4 million for related activities over a period of five years, while also planning to appoint a local digital agency for web development and social media development with an investment of $ 1.4 million for the related events for five years.
Further, it is seeking Cabinet approval to appoint eight destination representation companies (DRCs) covering the United Kingdom, Germany, France, India, China, Australia, Russia, and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, and Oman, with an investment of $ 9 million for related activities over a period of five years.
It also seeks Cabinet approval to appoint eight PR companies for source markets including the US, Spain, Italy, Scandinavian, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Japan, Korea, Poland and Netherlands with a cost of $ 6 million for related activities for four years.
In addition, it seeks approval to carry out integrated campaign in mature markets such as the UK, Germany, France, India, China, Australia, Russia, and GCC with an investment of $ 154 million over a period of five years. However, media buying will be executed through the DRCs appointed for each of the markets.
Sri Lanka Tourism also seek approval to appoint a local research agency for the campaign validation with an investment of $ 1.4 million for related activities for the next five years, and to establish an events calendar with a cost of $ 14 million for signature events over a period of five years.
The Minister said the Cabinet paper seeks to get the services of the existing Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee and to appoint a Project Committee for the procurement process of appointing service providers mentioned for PR agency and research agency.
He said tourism has been identified as a thrust sector by the present Government, and has been granted export status.
“It is critical to launch an effective and holistic destination marketing campaign to reach the said target of $ 10 billion while attracting 6 million tourists by 2025, set by President Rajapaksa, as the inventory of rooms in Colombo and other tourist destinations have exponentially increased over the past decade,” he added.
Tourism arrivals in Sri Lanka reflected year-on-year (YOY) growth during the post-conflict period, largely due to positive international media coverage. However, there has been a decline in arrivals during last two years. In 2016, the arrival target of 2.5 million tourist arrivals target set out by Sri Lanka Tourism was not achieved, and the total arrival figure was limited to two million. The highest arrival figure of 2.3 million was recorded in 2018. With the Easter Sunday terror attack, arrivals declined to 1.9 million in 2019.
Ranatunga was confident that the Cabinet will grant approval this week.