Sri Lanka tourism campaign to go ahead with new promotions head

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s delayed three billion rupee, three year main tourism promotional campaign is expected to get off the ground soon with the appointment of Kishu Gomes as chairman of the state promotions agency, the tourism minister said.

"Now that there is a new chairman and in place at the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, the campaign can go ahead," Minister John Amaratunga said after appointing the new chairman on February 06.

Industry players were worried that the mega campaign would be delayed further, and not build up on the momentum of Sri Lanka being named Lonely Planet’s top country to travel to in 2019 as well as smaller campaigns conducted in 2018.

Sri Lanka has not done a multiple media platform mega promotions campaign to take advantage of the arrivals boost the country received in 2010 after the ending of a 25-year civil war in 2009.

Arrivals growth has slowed since 2010.

The new mega campaign, targeting India, China, Europe and Australia, was stuck at the board level without approval, as the previous chairman Dehan Seneviratne had resigned when a political crisis started in October.

Kishu Gomes was appointed the Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau and the top regulatory body, the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority.

There was a delay in his appointment as well, since Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he needed to approve state appointments after the President’s approval.

Gomes said he needs one or two weeks to get oriented with the processes at the state office, after transitioning from a corporate environment.

"I need a week or two, because I need to know what are the processes here and to examine them," he said in Sinhala after taking over the state office.





"After that I will announce my plans, what strategies will be used to achieve them, and responsibilities that will fall on each person."

He said although tourism is Sri Lanka’s third-largest foreign exchange earner, much more could be done to increase the industry’s contribution to the country.

Gomes resigned as the chief executive and managing director of the local unit of the multinational Chevron Lubricants in May 2018.

In late 2018, he was the lead juror for the Sri Lanka Tourism Awards.

"In that capacity, I met a lot of hoteliers, and I had a chance to speak about my experiences at the awards ceremony," he said.

"I think that may have played a part in me being recommended to take up this office," he said. (Colombo/Feb07/2019 – SB)

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