SriLankan Airlines’ efforts to rebuild country’s tourism recognised at APEX awards

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Chief Commercial Officer Joshua Bustos (right) receiving the award

Passengers delighted by food at the Dansala

Arriving passengers receiving refreshments

Bhakthi Gee performers

  • Post-Easter Sunday Vesak campaign on behalf of Sri Lanka


SriLankan Airlines’ intensive efforts to drive the recovery of the island’s tourism industry in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attack were honoured with a global accolade – the ‘Best Marketing Innovation’ award from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). The Airline also managed to secure Four-Star rating in the major airlines category, for the third consecutive year. 

Group Chief Executive Officer Vipula Gunatilleka said: “We are delighted to win this prestigious award, which we consider to be an accolade for our country at a time when our tourism industry is recovering from a disastrous situation. Credit goes to the hundreds of members of our staff who volunteered for this innovative marketing campaign that reached an audience of millions of people in a large number of countries.”

SriLankan’s marketing effort was chosen the winner over entries by Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic that were also shortlisted nominees in this category. APEX ( is the world’s only non-profit membership trade association, a network of the airline industry’s leading airlines, airline suppliers and related companies that is dedicated to improving the entire airline passenger experience. 

The awards ceremony coincided with the APEX Expo annual industry convention at the Los Angeles Convention Centre from 9-12 September. The airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Joshua Bustos received the award on behalf of SriLankan at a glittering ceremony in Los Angeles on 9 September.

Senior Manager Marketing Saminda Perera said: “We are delighted to receive this award for our marketing campaign ‘Spirit of Vesak at BIA’ which was well-received by the participants, visitors and the viewers all alike. As the National Carrier of a country that has rich traditions, our aim was to symbolise in our campaign, the cultural aspects of a national festival which portrays unity among communities, team work and of course the sense of generosity which has connotations to the doctrine of the Buddha. We have always endeavoured to ensure the timeliness and universal appeal of our marketing campaigns and this award reaffirms the success of our efforts.”  

The campaign, which centred on the Buddhist festival of Vesak to showcase the unity and spirit of tolerance among Sri Lanka’s many ethnic and religious communities, reached an audience of 7.6 million people with 1.2 million engagements via live streaming over YouTube and Facebook that specifically targeted major tourism markets worldwide. 

It was based on the ‘karaniya metta sutra’ that emphasised the Buddha’s doctrine of boundless compassion to the world, and was carried out on Vesak, the holiest day in the calendar for Buddhists around the world.

The campaign involved a range of events at SriLankan’s hub at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport that emphasised the message of peace through spiritual songs, intricate decorations, offering refreshments catered by none other than the airline’s catering arm – SriLankan Catering to travellers at the airport, thanking people for visiting Sri Lanka, and much more. A special choir of airline employees ranging from pilots to cabin crew, aircraft engineers, administrative staff, auditors and aircraft interior cleaning crews were trained by some of the country’s top musicians to entertain travellers. 

SriLankan Catering ensured continuous service during the 12-hour activation at this award-winning endeavour by delighting the travellers at BIA with refreshments. 

SriLankan Airlines has a route network of 109 cities in 48 countries, including codeshare operations in partnership with the world’s finest airlines. It is firmly established as one of the leading airlines in the Indian Ocean region, being the largest carrier to both Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and the largest foreign airline in India. A member of the prestigious oneworld global airline partnership, SriLankan Airlines also connects travelers to over 1,000 cities in 160 countries through its oneworld partner airlines.