Sri Lanka tourism promotion grounded over board delay

ECONOMYNEXT- A planned three billion rupee destination promotion campaign has run aground with the government yet to appoint a permanent chairman and directors to the state’s tourism promotions office, sources said.

Many government programs hit a brick wall amid a political and economic crisis triggered by President Maithripala Sirisena in October.

President Sirisena had also issued a circular setting up a new process for directors of state agencies, which had slowed appointments.

An official source said the plan for the promotional campaign is now at the board level, and has to be approved before it is presented to the cabinet of ministers.

The campaign, aimed to be Sri Lanka’s largest and most comprehensive in over a decade, will target potential tourists from Europe, India, China and Australia.

The destination promotion is to be the main plank of Sri Lanka’s tourism marketing efforts in 2019.

In 2018 the office ran a 650,000 US dollar television promotion on international media, a 65 million rupee off-peak season campaign, and a 435 million rupee digital media campaign.

However, only three billion rupees have been allocated for the main destination promotion campaign for its three year run, which analysts say is not enough.

Industry players said they are watching the ongoing delays with concern.

A destination promotion campaign was expected after the war ended in 2009, but has been delayed for various reasons for nearly a decade, under successive tourism ministers.





Tourism Development Minister John Amaratunga was quoted on the newspaper The Sunday Times on January 06 saying that he had spoken to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe about the board appointments but the premier appeared to be in no hurry to make a move.

Amaratunga was unavailable for comment on Thursday. (Colombo/Jan14/2019)





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