Over 95 percent of tourists satisfied with stay in SL - Survey | Sunday Observer

Over 95 percent of tourists satisfied with stay in SL - Survey

AGSEP Research CEO Dr. Dietmar Doering shows a model marina at the media briefing flanked by TJ Associates Managing Partner Dr. Tissa Jayaweera and other officials of AGSEP Research.
AGSEP Research CEO Dr. Dietmar Doering shows a model marina at the media briefing flanked by TJ Associates Managing Partner Dr. Tissa Jayaweera and other officials of AGSEP Research.

A recent survey reveals that 96 percent of the travellers to Sri Lanka had positive results of their stay and felt welcomed in the country, 84 percent confirmed they could make contact with the locals while 80 percent praised the friendly and open minded attitude of Sri Lankans.

According to the survey, over 90 percent of the visitors confirmed the impression about the natural beauty of Sri Lanka as true, due to the fascinating diversity in the country.

A three-month survey conducted by the Asian German Sports Exchange Program (AGSEP Research) at the exit of the BIA from over 1,000 travellers from 60 nations, revealed that Sri Lanka has a wide range of attractions and sought after locations such as Ella, a top tourist destination among young European travellers.

Based on the findings, 80 percent of the visitors did not experience negative effects of the onset of the monsoon season a term used by foreign tour operators to focus on the off season weather pattern in Sri Lanka.

The report notes that since the expression ‘Monsoon’ carried an aversive meaning Sri Lanka is being de-promoted by foreign tour operators from April to October in the west coast and November to April in the East coast during the off seasons.

While AGSEP Research has conducted feasibility studies on promoting Ella among young travellers from Europe it has also done research on promoting nautical tourism in the country through sailing and boating combined with holiday activities.

The study also notes the trending of senior citizens of Europe selecting Sri Lanka as the second home to spend their retirement. Migration of seniors from Europe is being triggered by the huge refugee influx to the region. The research proposes that Sri Lanka should promote the destination for the retirement of seniors citizens.

However, the study notes that Sri Lanka needs to move out from marketing to ‘Smart Marketing’ as a viable remedy to promote the destination to attract a much better number of visitors to the country.

AGSEP Research CEO Dr. Dietmar Doering speaking to journalists on the findings in Colombo last week said ‘Smart Marketing’ also includes building Sri Lanka’s image and promoting the country as an ideal destination all year-round as a ‘12-month’ destination.

Comparing with other popular tourist destinations in the region the report notes that Sri Lanka remains an underperforming location for travel and tourism in the global travel map. According to annual tourists arrival statistics while Thailand and Malaysia enjoy over 35 million and 26 million respectively, Vietnam 10 million, Philippines five million and Laos three million Sri Lanka has been only able to woo in two million visitors to the country a year.

Citing an example the report notes that the number of visitors to Pattaya in Thailand increased from around 6.2 million in 2007 to 9.2 million in 2015 through events and sports. The report also proposes that Sri Lanka could boost its arrival figures through reciprocal sports exchange programs with the Langkawi Local Authority of Malaysia.

Analysing the link between the tourism promotion budget and annual arrivals another alarming finding is that Sri Lanka’s budget for tourism promotion is dismal compared to Vietnam and Malaysia which spends US$ 1.0 and $ 1.8 per tourist respectively whereas Sri Lanka spends 0.39 USD per visitor.

Citing the 2014 World Travel and Tourism Council report, AGSEP also notes that Sri Lanka’s share of tourism to GDP is abysmally low being placed 73rd compared to Maldives 78.1 percent, Seychelles 56.9 percent Mauritius 25.5 percent, Madagascar 19.7 percent, Thailand 19.3 percent, Malaysia 14.9 and Tanzania 14.0 percent. Sri Lanka’ share of tourism to GDP is 11. 1 percent.

“Sri Lanka endowed with more natural beauty and a wide variety of attractions could do much more in terms of the number of visitors it could attract each year. If Sri Lanka could attract eight million visitors a year the industry could contribute a 60 percent share to the GDP,” Dr. Doering said.

The report further notes that the withdrawal of flights by Sri Lanka’s national carrier to Europe, except flying to London, is a major drawback to capture the European market. The survey results show that direct flights are the prime selection of travellers from the EU sector.

The research also points to the fact that despite a beautiful coast line comprising 1,300 kilometers Sri Lanka still does not have a single marina.

AGSEP Research which runs a beachfront property in Marawila, plans to build a yacht marina with an investment of US$ 150 million with parking space for 100 yachts.

“We expecting the feasibility study report from KPMG this week and next week we will be contacting the Chinese partners and also discussing the approvals for the project with the authorities,” Dr. Doering said.