Tourism Bureau to launch promotional campaign in Brussels | Sunday Observer

Tourism Bureau to launch promotional campaign in Brussels

The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) expects the number of arrivals from Belgium to double following the outdoor advertising campaign that will be launched in Brussels next year, a top official of SLTPB said at a media briefing to mark the visit of the Association of Belgian Travel Organisers (ABTO) last week.

According to SLTPB officials, a local tender will be floated shortly calling for partners for the campaign that will be carried out in tram stations in Brussels

“The promotional campaign is estimated to cost around Rs. 30 million, and that will be approved once the partners have been finalised and the green light is given to go ahead with the campaign,” SLTPB Chairman Kishu Gomes said.

SLTPB will go ahead with the PR campaign in 12 other markets after Cabinet nod has been given, which industry experts said, they have major reservations as to whether the campaign will get off ground at all given the political bickering and bureaucratic lethargy in state institutions.

The global marketing and PR campaign for which large amounts of funds have been allocated has been in the back-burner for several years with no signs of kicking off to attract travellers and earn the much needed foreign exchange to the country.

However, the Belgium delegation was optimistic that Sri Lanka has all the resources and the potential to do much more that what it currently does to develop the tourism industry.

“We have realised the enormous opportunities Sri Lanka has with its cheerful people, the beautiful beaches, culture and good food. We are pleased to see the improvements in the hotels and leisure sector in Sri Lanka,” an ABTO official said, assuring Sri Lanka that the delegation will convey its positive sentiments about the country in Belgium.

The ABTO delegation was in the country from October 27-31 on an invitation from the Tourism Development Ministry to promote the destination among travellers in Belgium which is yet a small market accounting for around 14,000 travellers visiting the country each year.

“Sri Lanka can count on us to convey a positive message about the country. We will use modern media channels to spread the message and do the best to help Sri Lanka get back on its feet to recover from the setback it had this year,’ ABTO President Luc Coussement said.

The number of visitors from Belgium dipped 12.9 percent to 12, 138 in the first nine months this year against the same period last year which recorded 13,939 visitors.

However, SLTPB officials are upbeat that the visit of the delegation and the promotional campaign in Brussels will help woo in many more visitors from Belgium in the coming years.

The population in Belgium is over 11 million and about four to five Belgians on at least one holiday per year and around 11.3 million outbound trips from Belgium were made in 1999 and is forecast to increase to 26 million trips with at least one overnight stay by 2020. The average time spent by a Belgian in Sri Lanka has been less than 13 days and the amount spent in the country has varied according to the duration of the visit.

However, Belgium travellers are high spenders and prefer sunlight, sand, sea and culture.

ABTO comprise over 50 partner associations and is the largest tour operator in Belgium.

The SLTPB has also lined up many visits by delegations from key travel markets in the next couple of months and beyond to promote the destination.

The number of travellers to the country recorded a cumulative drop of 20 percent up to September this year over the corresponding period last year. However, the number of visitors to the country since the Easter bombings has been on the rise. The number of year-on-year dipped 46 percent in July, 57 percent in June and 70.8 percent in May.

Tourist arrivals in the first nine months this year declined by 20.5 percent to 1,376,312 compared to 1,731,922 recorded during the corresponding period last year. The total number of arrivals last year was 2,333,796. SLTPB also plans to hire German PR companies and conduct FAM tours for German travel agents in a bid to boost the high-end tourist market in Europe.

Arrivals from Germany in 2018 were 156,888, a 20 percent growth over the previous year and in the nine months this year it has been 93,886.

Sri Lanka Tourism expects a somewhat better winter this year with the situation normalising in the county. 

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