Tourism kicks off 2015 with over 6% growth in January

Monday, 16 February 2015 00:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Despite the staging of presidential elections in January, Sri Lanka registered tourism growth of 6.6% with a total of 156,246 visitors in the month of January as per provisional data. Key market India saw arrivals up 28.8% with 22,944 visitors, UK at +4% with 13,410 visitors, France +7.9% with 9,095 visitors, Germany at +12.6% with 10,375 visitors, China at +8.9% with 11,375 visitors and Italy at +8.5% with 2,710 visitors. Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala said: “We at Sri Lanka Tourism are very focused to the task at hand, achieving the two million visitor target by driving marketing where Sri Lanka is highlighted as a tourism destination with unique differentiating aspects like nature, heritage, culture and wellness combined with the primary benefit of sun, sea and sand in one island on the premise of authenticity, compactness and diversity,which will enhance the holiday experience of a traveller.” Athukorala emphasised that it was important to build on the good work done before and ensure consistency. So far in 2015, the private sector together with the Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau has taken part in the top travel fairs in Netherlands and New York targeting the North American market, Austria, New Delhi – thelargest tourism fair of India, Saudi Arabia targeting the Middle Eastern market, and Bombay where it won many accolades for sharing the ‘One Island, Multitude of Treasures’ proposition. “Next week we will be taking part in the Holiday World Fair in the Czech Republic developing market and in March the most-sought-after global tourism fair, ITB in Berlin. Our push in each market is driving the agenda on positioning Sri Lanka to be seen as the ‘Most Treasured Island in Asia’. That is our single-minded idea,” he said. Athukorala said this would be supplemented with visiting journalist programs and trade familiarisation tours from the key focus markets whilst testing new marketing strategies like films marketing, which is being done in the French market with the popular reality program’Bachelor’ being filmed in Sri Lanka. Whilst nation brand building activity is exciting, which we will do with Bloomberg for the country in the short-term as Sri Lanka requires this awareness, a point to note is that tourism destination branding and nation brand building are two totally different initiatives, noted Athukorala. Strong nation brands are built with cutting tourist edge destination branding and not vice versa, while nation brand value is built on how the country behaves on the world stage on many fronts and not just glossy advertising and documentaries, he added. “Given the values by which the new Government is conducting its day-to-day activities, Sri Lanka as a brand is sure to become a 100 billion dollar brand from the current $61b. On the tourism front our focus will driving successful destination brand building,” he emphasised.