Sri Lanka Tourism finishes fourth at ITB 2015

Sri Lanka Tourism did the country proud by winning fourth position among 83 countries and 11,000 exhibition booths at the world’s biggest travel and tourism convention ITB 2015 staged in Berlin, Germany announced Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Rohantha Athukorala. What was unique about Sri Lanka was that other state agencies like Sri Lanka Tea Board supported the tourism sector by making sure the Ceylon Tea boutique served every visitor with a single origin quality Ceylon Tea whilst the partnership inked with Sri Lanka Airlines will further add weight to brand Sri Lanka, said Chairman Athukorala.

The judging was led by Dean of Tourism Prof. Dr. Florian Hummel and Director of Business Consulting Martina Leicher working in close collaboration with Messe Berlin. The evaluation was broken down to two stages. Initially the best 15 are picked from each geographical area and then scrutinised in the second pass by another team armed with a more elaborative in depth criteria before the decision is made on the top 10.

Sri Lanka was classified into the most competitive geographical area of Asia/Australia/Oceania where entrenched completion exists given that most western tourists tour the world’s hot spots in Asia. In fact Asia attracts the highest, best quality tourists as most markets are just opening up such as the strategic partnering country for ITB 2015, Mongolia not forgetting the Maldives, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and new emerging markets like Myanmar which the western travellers sought after. Some people say that the global advertising spend on tourism is dominated by Asian countries that include India which means that Sri Lanka coming in at top four is big win for Sri Lanka, said Chairman Athukorala.

The new leadership of the Ministry of Tourism took a bold move by positioning the country on the theme ‘Positive Transformation’ given the new Government’s vision of transparency, good governance, equitable development whilst respecting the rights of people which was hailed by the 102 strong world press at Messe Berlin Press Room when the Minister Navin Dissanayake announced it to the world. Thereafter on behalf of the country Athukorala explained how the economy is ranked next to China as the next best growth economy globally as per the French trade organisation CORFACE and the value of the brand Sri Lanka this year will out beat the GDP of the country to be around $ 75-80 billion dollars which as per brand finance UK means that the country is poised to attract high quality investments, top dollar tourists and command stronger export growth.

Given the multi disciplinary exposure including working for the UN Athukorala went on to highlight how as per the World Bank ‘doing business index’ Sri Lanka is ranked the best in South Asia beating the power economy India which many in the audience did not know. Thereafter, the proposition of Ceylon Tea earning the right to be the ‘Worlds 1st Ethically Manufactured Clean Tea’ as per the Kyoto protocol whilst the apparel industry earning the position of being the ‘Ethical sourcing destination’ in the world of Apparel set the stage for the launch of the Tourism proposition.

‘One island a thousand treasures’ was the theme of Sri Lanka Tourism and once the presentation was over the manner in which the questions were handled by the tourism hierarchy was commented by the President of SLITO: “I was proud to be a Sri Lankan today.” One of the reporters from Sri Lanka who had been an attendee at the press conference annually commented, “It was a very well managed and professionally led press conference,” which sure set the stage for the top four ranking by the organisers for Sri Lanka. The Ambassador for Germany and Switzerland Karunatilleke Amunugama said his attendance and that of two ministers from the Government of Germany demonstrates the strong working relationship that exists between Sri Lanka and Germany. Let us now build on this strong foundation, he said.


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