Sri Lanka’s tourist hotspot awareness driven online: survey
ECONOMYNEXT – Mirissa, a tourist hotspot in southern Sri Lanka that came into prominence with whale watching over the last decade, is getting visitors mostly from positive online and personal recommendations, a survey has found.
Mirissa was in the spotlight recently after tourists were harassed by staff at an unauthorized beach restaurant called Water Creatures. Several unauthorised structures on the beach were then demolished by authorities, egged on by established hotels.
Up to 57 percent of visitors visited Mirissa after searching through the internet and 19 percent came after positive recommendations by friends, a survey conducted before the incident, by Feedback.lk, a start-up market research firm has found.
Another 3 came from facebook, indicating that almost 80 percent came after learning about the location from the internet and personal recommendations, underlining the major role now played by the internet in tourism.
About 10 percent of the tourists came after recommendation by travel agencies and 06 percent travel guides. Another 5 had heard about the destination from tourist fairs, the researchers found.
The survey was conducted among tourists on the Mirissa beach and in surrounding areas inland, in the first week of March 2018. Respondents were quizzed based on a structured questionnaire.
The factor rated most highly about Mirissa was the quality of the fine beach and sand, which got an exceptional rating, with clarity of the water and general cleanliness also getting good ratings.
Despite shortcomings, the researchers found that positive reviews out-numbered negative ratings (net promoter score) by 17.74 percent, which indicated that more people had a positive experience who became a promoter for the location, Feeback.lk researcher said.
Cleanliness of accommodation in the area was also given exceptional rating.
Mirissa and surrounding areas have seen some medium sized hotels and a large number of budget hotels and hostels springing up, which are listed on internet booking engines.
About 51 percent of the tourists had said the location was exceptional.
Restaurants however got a fair to good rating.
The lowest ratings were given for shower, washroom and lifeguard facilities. The variety of foods were also rated as inadequate.
At 38 percent the main activity that drew tourists to Mirissa was whale watching, and relaxing on the beach.
The tourists on the survey intended to stay in Sri Lanka on average 17 days, with 65 percent staying between one and two weeks and 19 percent for up to three weeks, with 10 percent wanting to stay longer than three weeks.
Younger tourists were staying one or two weeks and older ones were found to be staying longer.
Internet bookings engines are now playing a major role in bringing tourist to destinations with online portals such as Tripadvisor.com and wikitravel providing advice and tips.
On Tripadvisor the controversial Water Creatures restaurant, where tourists were harassed had an unusual 23 percent ‘terrible’ reviews. The reviews complained that service was slow, which was also a common complaint at other locations.
According to visitors to Mirissa the few beach restaurants were rotating party each night among themselves.
The lack of competition may have lowered the service quality with a restaurant assured of customers at its ‘turn’ regardless of service levels, making it a sellers’ market.
Feedback.lk researches who talked to restaurant owners were told that the rotation was originally done so that the restaurant holding the party got enough of a crowd to create a party atmosphere.
Small restaurants and shops selling clothes, food and souvenirs (a nightmarket) provide ‘atmosphere’ and nightlife for visitors with music and lights, in most tourist hotspots in Asia, which large hotels cannot provide, travellers say.
Other than whale watching, key reasons for visiting Mirissa was listed as the beach, surfing, nightlife and entertainment. (Colombo/May30/2018)