Sri Lanka Tourism to invest Rs. 1.2 b on global travel fair participation

Monday, 23 March 2015 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau which has given a fresh breath to brand Sri Lanka in the last one and half months not only in Sri Lanka but in key global markets like Germany, China, India and Italy announced that a focused dedicated funding of Rs. 1.2 billion will be invested only on Trade Fairs and country specific programs based on careful research on the needs of each of the focus markets and on the visitor targets Sri Lanka Tourism is aiming to attract, said Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala. Overall tourism numbers are registering an 11.6% growth as at end February with China sprinting away with 85.6% numbers. “A separate budget exists for brand marketing and new product development which we have to start from scratch given that Sri Lanka tourism has not had an official Communication partner for some time,” said Chairman Athukorala, “which is strange, given that most competitor destination nations have strong partnerships which have matured in spirit and chemistry to cater to the changing dynamics in the global market place. All marketing activity is governed by the strong private sector board members who are all respected specialists from the tourism industry.” The board of directors appointed by the innovative young Minister of Tourism and Sports Navin Dissanayake as per the Tourism Act consists of Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators President Mahen Kariyawasam, John Keels Holdings Destination Management sector Executive Vice President Vasantha Leelananda, Taj Hotels – Sri Lanka and Maldives Marketing and Sales Regional Director Amal Goonetileka, renowned businessman and Siddhalepa Group Managing Director Asoka Hettigoda, Tangerine Hotel Group Ltd Joint MD Angeline Ondaatjie, renowned businessman and SLAITO Vice President Devendra Senaratne, Ministry of Tourism and Sports Additional Secretary Kapila Jayasekera, SLTPB Managing Director Milanka Gajanayake and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Director General Malraj Kiriella. On the 11.6% growth in visitor arrivals China is at +85% growth, India at 21.2%, UK 5.2%, Germany at 14.2% and France at 14.6% which is good start for Sri Lanka Tourism, said Athukorala who took the helm after serving the United Nations for five years and being a hands on policy maker being the former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Export Development Board and serving EDB on the board for six years whilst also being a marketing team committee member of Sri Lanka Tea Board for the past six years, Director – Industrial Development Board, Director National Craft Council whilst having a 15 years track record of brand marketing in top British and American Multinationals globally where he twice won the Best Marketer award by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. SLTPB in the previous regime was riddled with corruption and misappropriation of funds where the top two executives of the previous administration’s passports impounded whilst many senior executives are yet being interrogated by a Bribery Commission which did not augur well for the top destination marketing agency of the Government. In the last two months, the Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau has demonstrated how a private-public sector working model has taken Sri Lanka to a new dimension with a very successful ITB exhibition that gave definition to the new Government under Minister for Tourism and Sports Navin Dissanayake on the theme ‘Positive Transformation’. “Sri Lanka also had a strong performance in China where we won the best travel booth at the Guangzhou international travel and tourism fair 2015 whilst in India too early in the year we won the best stall in New Delhi and Bombay which indicates the talent of the public sector officials,” the SLTPB Chairman said. “Now we are working on ROI based promotional work ethic,” he added.