“Nation brand building merges to destination marketing in today’s digital age”: Athukorala at PATA c

Wednesday, 6 May 2015 01:29 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  The Pacific Asia Tourist Association (PATA), the premier travel and tourism catalyst, staged its 2015 conference on the growing global trends in the three billion dollar global tourism industry at the picturesque district of Sichuan Province in China. It attracted the top 300 tourism specialists from around the world and the keynote was delivered by Xu Jing, Executive Secretary of the General Assembly and the Executive Council Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO. The session highlight on marketing a competitive destination trends brought to the stage the Director General for Malaysia Tourism specialist Dato’ Azizan Noordin and Sri Lankan award winning marketer Rohantha Athukorala, the current Chair of Sri Lanka Tourism promotions globally, with the session chaired by BBC famed World News presenter Sharanjit Leyl. How Malaysia is recovering post the two crashes of Malaysian airliner was articulated by Dato Noordin whilst Athukorala spoke on how almost 60% of modern travellers use online information in the decision making process which are not only related to tourism and destination driven information but general news on the country. “Hence if the behaviour on the global stage by a country is not positive then it sure influences the choice of the destination brand, which is where nation brand building parameters like exports, governance, people/culture, politicians’ views and sports support the destination marketing drive that we in tourism must focus on,” voiced Athukorala. “The Nepal Chairman of PATA chapter Suman Pandey commented this was a key pick up for us as in the digital age nation branding parameters merge with designation marketing initiatives, I totally agree.” Athukorala went on to mention: “Almost 30 million people wait to taste daily the cup of Ceylon Tea, if not their day is not made as Sri Lanka is the only source that ethically produces tea globally as per the Kyoto Protocol. Whilst daily there are millions of people who wear a top end clothes brand essentially in the US or Europe which was ethically manufactured in Sri Lanka which is the power of nation brand building pillars that can influence an online search of information on a country.” Athukorala voiced how the BBC anchor who chaired the session mentioned to him that it was only after the regime change that she decided to visit Sri Lanka given the governance issues that Sri Lanka was associated with prior to 8 January. “These are all nation branding pillars which influence tourism in a country and hence we see the wider role and scope of destination policy makers and communicators,” he said. “Sri Lanka has many treasures that we are focussing on apart from the ones discussed like 90% of the world use Ceylon Cinnamon across the world daily, we are known as the sapphire capital of the world where Princess Diana wore a sapphire on her wedding day whilst it’s the only country where the two biggest animals of the world can be seen – whale and elephant on a single day,” said Athukorala. “How World Cup soccer star Carles Piyol who was a top Barcelona captain in the world of soccer visited Sri Lanka around two weeks back garnered one million views on Facebook in just 24 hours. The use of social media by Asia-Pacific travellers is significantly different than that of leisure travellers from the US and the EMEA regions. Less than one in five US consumers sought social inspiration for any of these travel activities, and in Europe and South Africa (the only non-European country from the region included in the survey), only about one in seven travellers used social media to get ideas for trips.” PATA CEO Mario Hardy in his inaugural address said the speakers and the subjects for discussion for the 2015 conference were picked based on a careful analysis of the current issues and the key trends faced in the tourism industry which zeroed down to the management of Heritage sites globally. There were three case studies that discussed the Great Wall of China, which nets in a revenue of eight billion dollars on the private-public sector business model.