Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) conducted a well-coordinated media campaign at ITB 2018 in Berlin last week. As part of this campaign a high profile press conference was arranged on the sidelines of the trade exhibition with the participation of many well-known travel journalists.
The media representatives were largely from German speaking countries and included popular media houses such as FVW, DPA, Diewelt, Discovery Channel and Reuters.
According to industry analysts the large participation was confirmation of the media interest in destination Sri Lanka which is now a preferred long-haul holiday destination in Asia for Europeans.
The panel at the media conference consisted of Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Germany Karunasena Hettiarachchi, SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramanium, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) Past President Mahen Kariyawasam, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL President Sanath Ukwatte and Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET) President Rohan Abeywickrama.
Ambassador Hettiarachchi highlighted that Sri Lanka is steadily pursuing its economic development programme and that the country has made an impact as a favourable long haul destination.
Minister Amaratunga noted that Sri Lanka had an unbroken record of participation at ITB, especially during the conflict period and appreciated the faith placed by German and European travelers in continuously travelling to Sri Lanka even during the conflict. The Minister highlighted the three-year tourism strategic plan and key developments taking place in the country.
He spoke of the new financial city featuring state of the art hotels, shopping malls, theme parks, marinas and the cutting edge infrastructure for multi-sensory entertainment. Planned development of domestic airports, sea ports and the addition of new terminal for international airport for tourist travel were also highlighted by the Minister.
He emphasised that all measures were in place to ensure the safety of tourists including the expansion of the Tourist Police in the country and the emphasis that was being placed on training industry personnel including taxi drivers.
SLTPB Managing Director Sutheash Balasubramanium presented the unique selling propositions of Sri Lanka to be the preferred destination in Asia. He highlighted the new tourism developments and the planned digital and global campaigns. He highlighted the world class events such as Asian Choir Games, IRONMAN and “Sound of Music” Broadway Show, which were held for the first time in South Asia with a view to promoting event based tourism in Colombo.
The press actively engaged in the question and answer session with much interest being focused on the diversity of the tourism products on offer in the small Island nation.
The press conference also served as a useful platform to disseminate accurate information on the true ground situation following the recent unrest in Kandy. Interestingly only two journalists raised questions on the current situation in Kandy while the rest of the 80 media attendees focused on tourism subjects.
The International Media Market (IMM) was a journalists’ networking session which coincided with ITB Berlin and was attended by SLTPB for the second consecutive year. The event was held on 6 March, the day before ITB in order to create an international platform for all reputed media to connect with National Tourism Boards attending ITB.
Over 100 print and online media including bloggers from German speaking countries attended the media market which offered opportunities to link up with top ranked international media houses and create greater awareness about Sri Lanka.
ITB Berlin News which is the official newspaper of ITB, carried an exclusive interview featuring Minister Amaratunga. Additionally, SLTPB published two advertisements in the newspaper on day 1 and day 2 of the event in order to create greater impact for Sri Lanka. This news bulletin was distributed to all trade visitors, exhibitors and media attending ITB amounting to over 15,000 copies.
In addition to media awareness, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau successfully branded the ITB venue with mega advertising banners. These were showcased at prominent entrances and the Sri Lanka pavilion harmonising the advertising theme of the stand, maximising onsite branding opportunities.