Lanka targets high-end markets through global tourism promotion | Sunday Observer

Lanka targets high-end markets through global tourism promotion


The much anticipated global and digital campaigns to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, will kick off almost at the same time between August and September this year, said Dehan Seneviratne who assumed duties as the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman, a couple of moons ago.

“My target for the next six months is to get the two tourism promotional campaigns off the ground and position Sri Lanka as a leading destination in the global travel map,” he said.

The global and digital campaigns had been in the back burner for far too long, due to which the tourism industry could not reach its full potential as a destination in the region according to industry experts.

Dehan Seneviratne    

The global marketing campaign aims at wooing visitors from high end markets such as China, India, UK, France and Germany. The digital campaign initially targets the five destinations mapped out in the global campaign and then spread its scope to all major markets across the globe.

The SLTPB chief said he is confident of positioning the country well in the global travel arena and achieve the targets of attracting 2.5 million visitors with a revenue exceeding US$ 4 billion this year.

“I am quite confident the two campaigns will have a major impact on marketing Sri Lanka to be a head of many regional destinations,’ Seneviratne said.

However, he acknowledge that Sri Lanka needs to have the infrastructure and right products to woo in high end spenders whom industry experts said are being left out due to the absence of a vibrant marketing campaign to lure in the high spenders.

A senior hotelier said last week that Sri Lanka is turning out to be a destination for budget travellers due to the absence of a destination promotion campaign to attract the high end segment of travelers and that the country depends on marketing done by bloggers and social media influencers.

“Its true we need to foremost target the high end segment of travelers but we also should not forget the mid end spenders, the home stayers and backpackers who make good reviews and form a critical mass,” the SLTPB chief said.

He said tourism is a key contributor to the growth of the economy but it is not only all about getting visitors to the country but also positioning the country to the world so that it could carve out a hub for interrelations and cooperation among people to build peace and good will.

“When we interact with people we learn a lot as a country and learn how to market our products and the country as a destination to suit the needs of the modern world. There is tremendous potential for Sri Lanka to grow especially from what we have to offer such as diversity, authenticity and the compact nature of the country,” Seneviratne said.

However, according to him, the enormous potential of the country to boost tourism has not been fully tapped. He says potential of the tourism industry expands with modern technology, ease of travel, people’s desire to learn from each other and in an era of a borderless world Sri Lanka can be a hub for competitively priced education, health and MICE (Meeting, Incentives, Conference and Exhibition) tourism.

The SLTPB has launched a program to introduce new locations such as historical, religious and archeological sites in the country. Travel experts say there are many religious and historical sites in the Sabaragamuwa province which are little known to the country which could be used to woo in travelers to the country.

However, industry experts say responding quickly to changing environment and market needs while adhering to industry regulations is paramount to be ahead of competitors.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Tourism also embarked on a tourism promotion campaign on CNN, a global television network which is expected to air over 1,500 commercial spots for three months. The commercial spots will highlight the diversity of the destination.

The US$ 625,000 campaign will also comprise editorials that will extend to several social media platforms through the ‘Great Big Story’ of CNN.

The number of visitors up to May this year was 1,017,819, a 14.7 percent growth compared to 887,093 visitors recorded during the same period in 2017.

The Ayurvedic Expo this month, Reid Amazone, Colombo marathon and Travel Bloggers Conference in October, the Kite Surfing Festival in September and Christmas festival in December are some of the events lined up by Sri Lanka Tourism for the year.