Sri Lanka to launch tourism campaigns in 12 countries starting mid-December

Tourism is Sri Lanka’s third largest foreign exchange generator, creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs.

ECONOMYNEXT- The state-run Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau will begin launching tourism marketing campaigns totaling 1.2 billion rupees in 12 key markets starting mid-December, a top official said.

“Depending on how long it takes to procure services, the campaigns will be executed in different markets at different times,” Chairman Kishu Gomes told EconomyNext.

“But starting mid-December, we will begin launching in some markets,” he said.

The SLTPB has allocated 100 million rupees each per market, which includes China, India and Australia, and select countries in Europe and the Middle East, Gomes said.

“We will have 22 different marketing communication activities in the 12 countries, which include advertising on television, radio, buses, trams, bicycles and at shopping malls,” he said.

“The campaigns will run from between one to six months depending on the prices in different countries.”

In China, a digital campaign will be launched after studying Chinese online behaviour, Gomes said.

A digital component is not present in other countries, as a digital campaign ran in key markets earlier in 2019, he said.

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals have fallen by 20.7 percent from a year earlier to 1.5 million tourists in the first 10 months of 2019. A growth witnessed in the first three months of the year reversed following the Easter Sunday bombings.

A fall of around 70.8 percent in May has recovered fast to a 22.6 percent decline in October, and the government is expecting the year to end with a 20 percent fall in arrivals and earnings to fall at a similar rate to 3.5 billion US dollars.

Hoteliers and tour agents have been calling for a global promotions campaign over the past decade, and the voices got stronger after the terror attack, to complement positive publicity Sri Lanka received from top publications such as Lonely Planet.

A 1 billion rupee global campaign was set to launch in September after it received cabinet approval, but the Attorney General said the procurement process was not followed.

JWT, an advertising agency which had done a public relations campaign for Sri Lanka following the Easter Sunday bombings was chosen for the global campaign due to the need to launch it quickly to help the country’s tourist arrivals recover faster.

Other advertising agencies had called foul on the move.

Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga had then said that the SLTPB will launch the multi-country promotional campaigns, as procurements below 100 million rupees each do not require cabinet approval, thus eliminating lengthy processes.

“Below 100 million rupees, there is no necessity to go to cabinet. They (SLTPB) will go for internal tenders,” Amaratunga had said.

A levy collected from the tourism industry, and a portion of the airport taxes are used to finance the state promotional efforts. (Colombo/Nov07/2019)