Govt. drops JWT pitch, goes for new multi-country tourism blitz

Friday, 23 August 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Focuses on 12 mature markets to drive numbers and best ROIs
  • India, China, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Middle East, Russia, Australia identified
  • SLTPB unable to commit to timeline, investment for tourism blitz
  • Insists on following proper procurement process for fresh tenders

By Charumini de Silva

The crucial yet short-term global public relations (PR) and marketing campaign to revive tourism following the Easter Sunday attacks has been abandoned due to bureaucratic concerns, and is being replaced with a multi-country promotion drive.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau Managing Director Charmarie Maelge 

The original emergency recovery promotional campaign, approved by Cabinet with a nearly Rs.1 billion budget, was awarded to JWT as an extended business to the broader ‘So Sri Lanka’ campaign. However, later when the draft agreement was referred to the Attorney General’s Department, it was opined that proper procedure had not been followed.

“The marketing campaign, planned with an investment of nearly Rs. 1 billion, was done as a crisis management strategy soon after the Easter Sunday tragedy. But it has now been abandoned,” Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Managing Director Charmarie Maelge told journalists yesterday.

She said the focus right now is on 12 mature markets, which includes countries that were not targeted in the previous campaign, which can give the best Return on Investment (ROI).

“We are reviewing our current status in terms of target markets, and re-looking at a practical medium- to long-term strategy. In that respect, priority has been given to PR, advertising, and appointing destination representative companies. We have identified 12 mature markets that can drive the numbers, and will decide on markets which will give us the best ROIs in the short-, medium- and long-term,” she added.

Reiterating that the multi-country promotional campaign is still at its initial stage, she said they have so far identified India, China, UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Middle East, Russia, and Australia as markets in which to roll out the campaign.

Unable to commit to a timeline for the promotion to kick off, she asserted that it has been given the highest priority, and officials were trying their best to get it ready in time for the winter season. “We need to do this promotion as soon as possible, but we need to do it correctly as well,” she added.

In terms of the tender process, Maelge said it was also being reviewed. “We want to know the most effective way. Our intention is to roll out this promotion as soon as possible, but we need to do it correctly as well. We will follow the procurement process for the tenders. This is all public money, we need to have transparency as well as the highest ROI for every cent we spend on it,” she stressed.

Maelge noted that the investment for the new marketing blitz will be reviewed as well. “These are big initiatives and require research. Some markets will be rated, and certain markets will get priority,” she added.

When asked if they were considering a separate budget for the 12 identified markets, as contracts under Rs. 100 million do not require Cabinet approval, she said: “I don’t think there is an issue like that. There is financial authority by the Board. From my point of view, it is to identify what needs to be done and working towards that.”