Top Sri Lankan hotelier calls for global destination marketing campaign

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka urgently needs a global strategic destination marketing campaign to promote its tourism sector and make the best use of its potential, the head of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, one of the island’s biggest hotel operators, has said.

Harry Jayawardena, the group’s chairman, said the island has been unable to harness its “remarkable potential” due to the lack of a concerted destination marketing campaign.

“A strategic destination marketing campaign across the world through selected channels of communication remains an urgent need of the day,” he told shareholders in the company’s latest annual report. However, he said, there were encouraging signs of such a campaign seeing the light of day.

The tourism industry hopes that a cohesive and integrated campaign, spearheaded at a national level, will be launched this year, he said.

“It is also vital that such a campaign does not become a one-off effort, but is sustained over a long period,” Jayawardena said. “Such a campaign will help to bolster demand for destination Sri Lanka, which we believe is vital as a solution to meet excess capacity in hotel inventory in some areas of the country.”

The excess capacity has led to unhealthy competition based on price, posing challenges to the long-term profitability of the industry and all its stakeholders, Jayawardena said.

“Increasing arrivals across a wider spectrum of travelers is an urgent imperative to avoid intense price-based competition and to harness economies of scale for Sri Lanka to be more competitive vis-a-vis its regional players.”

Jayawardena also repeated his call for better control of the number of visitors at national parks, saying overcrowding had become a serious concern and a threat to the sustainability of the parks.

“Just as much as attracting higher volumes would benefit Sri Lanka, it is also of critical importance that we stay conscious of the long-term sustainability of our heritage sites and national parks,” he said.

“The number of visitors permitted at national parks and cultural sites must be managed at any given time at a healthy number to avoid the proverbial ‘killing of the goose that lays the golden egg’,” Jayawardena said.

Sri Lanka’s natural resources are already in danger due to a lack of policies and controls, and overcrowding at national parks has not only become an eyesore but also threatens the safety of their inhabitants, he said.





He called for a long-term sustainable policy framework and regulations, and their effective implementation.
(COLOMBO, June 20, 2017)

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