Tourism stakeholders back Govt. ad campaign to counter Kandy impact

Saturday, 24 March 2018 00:45 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Minister agrees to run TV promotions on CCTV, NDTV, Al-Jazeera, represented in key markets 
  • While no structured  assessment done yet on loss of bookings, industry says it could run into millions of dollars
  • Calls for global advertising campaign to be expedited
  • No new Chairman for SLTPB; Minister, Min. Secy. and MD ‘holding  the fort’

By Charumini de Silva

In the aftermath of the communal upheaval in Kandy, tourism industry stakeholders are wholly supporting the promotional campaigns the Government plans to rollout from next month to counter the impact of the clashes.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) this week announced that it was gearing up for a $ 650,000 CNN advertising campaign to woo travellers from all over the world in a bid to revive the country’s tarnished image as well as to try its level best to reach the 2.5 million tourist arrival target Sri Lanka has been missing out on for the past two years.

“We really need an immediate international marketing campaign to counter the impacts of exaggerated reports about the country,” The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) President Sanath Ukwatte told Daily FT.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) President Harith Perera said if the procurement guidelines were met and deliverables were established, they were in full support of the CNN initiative.

Ukwatte also said that the industry stakeholders categorically requested Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga to also have advertising campaigns on international television channels such as CCTV, NDTV and Al-Jazeera, which are telecasted in key markets such as China, India and the Middle Eastern countries where the tourism traffic was most affected. 

“The Minister has agreed to our request. We hope that the advertising campaigns in other channels will also be in a position to kick-off next month as well,” he added.

When asked if the industry has finished compiling booking losses, Ukwatte said it was very difficult to assess an amount as they didn’t know how the future bookings would transpire. “Anyhow, the loss could run into millions of dollars,” he stressed.

Acknowledging that they haven’t done a structured assessment, Perera said that they felt the Asian market was most affected.

“The Kandy issue was unfortunate, but the authorities did well to mitigate the negative impact and avoid further damage. This calls for the global advertising campaign to be expedite it,” he stressed.

Asked if there were any nominations for the SLTPB Chairmanship, the stakeholders said that the Minister, Ministry Secretary and the SLTPB Managing Director were ‘holding the fort’.