‘More to be done to put tourism industry back on track’ | Sunday Observer

‘More to be done to put tourism industry back on track’

15 September, 2019

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is aggressively working to promote Sri Lanka by investing Rs. 1.5 billion.

To this end it has identified five clusters which generate highest number of arrivals including the countries such as USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Belgium with concentrating more on European market.

“The aim of focusing attention on the European market is because they are regarded as high spending tourists. With the introduction of a visa-fee free scheme we saw a growth in Indian tourists while a decrease was recorded in Chinese tourist arrivals,” Chairman SLTPB, Kishu Gomes said.

A decision has been taken to launch an incentive scheme for tour operators to encourage them to generate more business for the country,” he said.

“Though the promotional campaign is on hold, we are working on an attractive marketing ad campaign aligned with a PR strategy to promote the country in an aggressive manner as never before,” he said.However, the industry stakeholders say that there is a lot more to do to put the tourism industry on track.

President, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Sanath Ukwatte said, “The hotel industry is still struggling, and we are waiting for the government to roll out the International PR and marketing campaign as we are getting close to the booking period for the high season. “Foreign tour operators are forecasting a 50% drop in winter bookings compared to last year. The priority is to have an effective destination marketing, PR and communication plan targeting our traditional markets and Asian giants, India and China,” he said.

President, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators, Harith Perera said, The Tourism industry suffered a huge blow due to the incidents of April 21. The subsequent negative travel advisory dented our hopes and aspirations even further. The industry has made a slow but steady progress regardless of policy support.

“The Government promised a relief package and an accelerated PR and marketing campaign to recover from this catastrophe as soon as possible. Despite the timely launch of the relief package, some of the elements were not executed as per expectations. Some of the industry members are still suffering due to lack of business.

“We could be one of the rare destinations in the world that does not counter attack negative publicity with a positive PR campaign after such a calamity. The repercussions of this will be felt in the medium to long term.

“While business and inquiries have slowly picked up, we are well below last year’s figures and Winter 2019/20 looks worrying.

“Hope we can rally and support this industry for the future prosperity of our motherland,” he said.

Jetwing Group Chairman Hiran Cooray said, “We received overwhelming support from local and international tour operators soon after the April incidents. The support was unbelievable.

Due to the resilient nature of the industry, it is slowly and surely on the recovery path.

At present, we have reduced our prices. However, come December, we will get back to normal pricing.”

Senior Vice President, Galle Face Group and Senior Consultant, Water’s Edge Hotel, Chandra Mohotti said, “Under the circumstances, the initiatives taken by the Government to achieve targets need to be direct, instead of haphazard measures.

We should not work under the assumption of capturing the whole world, but should concentrate on promoting the country.” “We should consider this setback as a blessing to improve the quality of our service delivery and standards, upgrade hotels and tourism related facilities as this situation will not last forever and will end sooner than expected,” he said.