Archive for December, 2015

Sri Lanka Tourism unveils strategic marketing plan for 2016

Amid criticism over the absence of a proper marketing and promotional plan, and the lack of funds with the transfer of moneys collected from tourism stakeholders for promotional work by way of taxes to a consolidated fund operating under the Treasury, Sri Lanka Tourism yesterday came out with a strategic marketing plan for the year 2016.

A detailed press statement issued by Sri Lanka Tourism stated that the said strategic marketing plan was designed with the participation of “the private and public sector stakeholders addressing long standing needs of the industry and the future expectations of the country as a tourism destination”

During the year 2015 up to November, Sri Lanka Tourism recorded 18 percent growth on arrivals with 1.5 million arrivals. The total tourism revenue generated was US$ 2.2 billion.

“In this backdrop, the tourism promotional plan of year 2016 is formulated based on five key strategic objectives.

Attracting a target number of 2.2 million visitors with 26 percent annual growth, increasing average daily expenditure of a tourist up to US$ 200 and average stay, contributing to generate a total tourism revenue up to US$ 2.75 billion will be the key performance measures.

Uplifting Sri Lanka’s brand value up to US$ 80 million through tactical marketing campaigns focusing on main product offerings of the county will serve as the overall goal of the promotional strategy devised for 2016,” the statement said.

Sri Lanka Tourism also wishes to appoint PR agencies for major source markets in order to achieve country promotional objectives and aggressively promote the country enhancing tourism brand in the world.



Mandara Resort and Spa Weligama introduces River side wing

Assistant Manager of the hotel, Ganga Priyadharshani and Assistant Front Office Manager, Damith Ratnayake.



Mandara Resort and Spa Weligama have invested over Rs. 300 million to introduce a River side wing to their resort with addition 14 rooms. The owning company, Rosan Group has also invested a further Rs. 100 million to build a modern reception hall that could accommodate over 350 guests.

Assistant Manager of the hotel, Ganga Priyadharshani said that this is the biggest reception hall in the area. “This would be open by end of February.”

She said that they built the River side facility to increase to the growing demands for the hotel. The Weligama is also becoming emerging destination for both local and foreign tourists.

“To meet their dining demands we are also building a sea side restaurant (Wadiya) which would be open tot eh public as well.”

Assistant Front Office Manager, Damith Ratnayake said that the hotel was also looking at introducing water sport facilities and are looking to buy two water scooters. “We are looking at Bombardier water scooters imported from Canada.”

Members of the Bombardier water scooters local company was at the hotel recently and they said that the Waters in Madara was ideally suited for water sports.

“We have already supplied several scooters to hotels in Trincomalee, Kalpitiya, Hikkaduwa and other areas.”

Managing Director, Sagara Palihawadana said they regularly participate in major travel shows across the world and these marketing have helped to maintain high occupancies. We also see and increase demand and this is the reason we decided to reinvest in additional rooms.”

He also said that the group had invested Rs. 100 million for a new kitchen and also improvements in the lobby and other areas.

Mandara Resort and Spa was also awarded the “Golden Award” at the Matara Chamber of Commerce and Industry Annual Business awards last year. Resort hotel has a large open swimming pool with fiber optic lights to illuminate in the night.

It was the first pool with fiber optic to be built in the South.

Source :

New guidelines help tourism accommodation go green


A new set of guidelines for accommodation establishments will not only help them minimise their impact on the environment but make a more positive contribution to the world.

While tourism has a number of benefits, the impact on the environment is not always as beneficial. The resources we consume as a result of staying in tourist accommodation are often much greater than that if we stayed at home.

But a new set of guidelines from ISO aims to help reduce the negative impacts of accommodation establishments, while retaining the benefits of tourism and even adding a few more.

Developed by TC 228, whose secretariat is held by AENOR and INNORPI, ISO’s members in Spain and Tunisia, ISO/TS 13811, Guidelines on developing environmental specifications for accommodation establishments aims to help conserve the natural environment and its biodiversity, taking into account specific local conditions.

It is the result of collaborative work by experts from a number of national standardisation bodies and international partners such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and HOTREC.

Project leader and TC 228 working group 10 convenor Tuba Ulu Yilmaz said the Technical Specification is expected to be a widely recognised technical reference for a wide range of stakeholders, not just accommodation providers who want to be more environmentally friendly.

“It is also aimed at countries with no regulations to constitute a framework; national and international bodies to assess and harmonise their existing schemes or certifications; and consumers who want the choice to choose establishments that have the environment in mind,” she said.

“It will foster the ultimate goal of environmental sustainability and raise the overall standard of the tourism sector.”

The guidelines outline a number of things that accommodation establishments can do to reduce their impact, including conserving their use of resources, reducing pollution and better managing their waste, as well as ways they can make a positive contribution to the area. This includes things such as restoring natural areas of scenic beauty and educating staff, clients and the community, of the important role they too can play.

Source ://

Global leisure industry must benchmark Seychelles tourism campaign: Rohantha


The marketing section of the Seychelles Tourism Board that has experienced unparalleled growth over the past two years, evolving from the humble beginnings from just one Facebook page and one website to become one of the trail blazing destination marketing campaigns must be benchmarked by others, said top marketer, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Industry/Commerce and Former Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Dr. Rohantha Athukorala when he addressed the Asian Diplomats at the Foreign Ministry BCIS training program at the BMICH.

The participants were foreign ministry officials from the government of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Cambodia, Bhutan, Nepal and Papua New Guinea who were in Sri Lanka on a two-week program.

Dr. Athukorala highlighted that the current trend where most countries want to have a sexy ‘Nation Brand Building campaign’ but research reveals that the best route to achieve this end is by first launching a ‘Tourism Destination Marketing initiative’. One of the best campaigns that the world has seen lately is the campaign unleashed by Seychelles Tourism Authority, said the speaker. Apart from the traditional marketing program launched, the aggressive e-campaign uses a mix of twitter, instagram, wayn, vimeo, pinterest, google+, youtube, linkedin, and flickr in line to the sketched brand values that Seychelles as a country wants to wrap itself with. The campaign is ranked top of mind among subscribers and has created a social media revolution that has taken the world by storm in recent years which we must pick the learning, he explained.

Apparently the latest research by UNWTO reveals that more people on the planet are researching their hobbies, interests and holidays via hand-held devices and home computers which is why Seychelles Tourism set an objective to have a strong profile and high visibility tourism destination on this platform to be competitive. “This tells us that either we play the game hard on the fronts travellers engage or we will fall along the way given the entrenched competition in the leisure industry,” cautioned Dr. Athukorala who is an award winning marketer with over 20 years of brand management experience in British and American multinationals.

“Destination marketing apart from raising awareness over social media platforms must combine with below the line ‘push’ based marketing like what Seychelles has done based on a clear brand value proposition,” he advocated.

“Seychelles creating a raft of new websites which include not only a totally-revamped travel destination website, but also mini-websites for Seychelles Ocean Festival, Seychelles Secrets, Miss Seychelles, My Seychelles Experience, and both Chinese and Portuguese destination information websites which tells us the depth of thinking that a country needs to architecture when developing a brand footprint of a country,” he said.

The results achieved is also encouraging given that the increased traffic to Seychelles in comparison to just a few years ago such as Facebook following increasing from 4,200 (2013)  to more than 500,000 in over 129 countries, across its two main marketing Facebook pages is activation at its best. Meanwhile, website visitors have grown to over 1.1 million unique visitors in 2015, up from 600,000 in 2013 which links well to the actual visitor arrivals the country has experienced between 2014-2015. All marketing investments must be ROI based, advocated Athukorala. “If not it is not sustainable and the private sector cannot build on the national campaign.”

“The e-marketing section of Seychelles Tourism has also produced an iPad/tablet app called the E-Travel Guide which visitors can download for information on events, islands, and activities, as well as an interactive map of the islands which is the engagement that a New Age traveller looks for,” voiced Athukorala. “An essential ingredient of visibility is filling the knowledge gap.”

Seychelles have done the homework based on the campaign unleashed as a tourism destination given that the product range of the destination is covered with a full range of services and products based on clear traveller insights than just intuition, said Athukorala.

“This provides the would-be holiday makers with the facts they need to be able to make a decision on their holidays and where to spend them, which is the new thinking required.” Specifically, the 10 action adventure and niche videos which have boosted views on the Seychelles Tourism Board’s Youtube channel to half a million views in comparison to a mere 20,000 in 2013 is a strong piece of work,” he said.

On a question queried by the Cambodian participant on the role of a typical foreign ministry when a scientific marketing campaign is launched, Athukorala said, “The Foreign Ministry of a country must support the respective countries’ tourism promotions bureau so that one line ministry compliments the work done by the other; which is how from destination marketing a country expands to Nation Branding.

Highlighting one promotional mix element which has really got traction from the Tourism Marketing campaign of Seychelles, Dr. Athukorala shared the ‘My Seychelles Experience Video Competition’ which has been running from July 2015 to January 2016, in which visitors upload their holiday videos to have a chance of winning an all-inclusive, VIP holiday to Seychelles which also increases Seychelles’ visibility across the globe and builds connectivity with target customers which are the type of profiling initiatives that cuts through the clutter and builds strong brand equity, he said.

Today’s destination marketing campaigns include the use of drones that are Go-Pro camera driven to take thousands of high-resolution images of a country like what Seychelles did which are been used to train trade partners across the world and to be showcased at Travel Exhibitions that the country takes part in which is how much the game has changed as against traditional marketing techniques.

“Hence we see the above the line, below the line and online digital marketing campaigns working in unison which is what destination marketing initiatives must achieve similar to FMCG brands,” voiced Dr. Athukorala.

Source :–Rohantha#sthash.Xs8f6kuz.dpuf

Browns to build two resorts in Maldives

Browns Hotels and Resorts will be extending their footprint to the Maldives.The group is planning to build two resort hotels in the island nation.

In addition the company has also signed up with one of the leading travel agencies in Italy, Alpitours to market the newly opened Dickwella Resort and Spa opened on December 22.

Browns Hotels and Resorts General Manager Eksath Wijeratne said that they have signed up with the Italian company who in turn will send tourists for the hotel. “The company also invested over Rs. 250 million to upgrade the 56 roomed hotel.

“We were closed for six months for this refurbishment,” Wijeratne said. All rooms have been done up while several other features too were added under the refurbishment program.

Wijeratne said that the company has also repositioned the hotel as an all inclusive club concept hotel on the request of Alpitours.

The Italian counterpart will also be operating chartered flights from next month and they will use the Mattala Airport for this purpose.Wijeratne said Dickwella Resort and Spa’s forward bookings are very positive and they already have over 80% Italian booking for the January February season channeled through Alpitours. The average stay would be around one week.He said that Alpitours has also stationed a 10 member animation team to work in the hotel to entertain the guests.

LOLC Group’s Leisure sector was grouped under their subsidiary Browns Hotels and Resorts in 2014.

The Group now has nine properties in its portfolio both locally and internationally with 1,200 keys upon completion.

With over 3.1 million customers, Alpitour World is the leading Italian travel group and high-ranking in the European travel industry.

Source :

Tourism Fest 2015 a huge success


The first ever ‘Tourism Fest with the spirit of Christmas’ organised by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) in association with other tourism institutions under the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs was a huge success. Thousands of foreign and local visitors thronged the Arcade, Independence Square during the five-day event from 19 to 23 December.

The idea behind ‘Tourism Fest 2015’ was to portray Sri Lankan food, culture, gems, handicrafts, tea, shopping and entertainment at one venue, offering both foreign and local visitors the opportunity of experiencing the many facets of the country in one place. Tourism Fest 2015 was declared open by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 19th and by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake on the 21st. President Maithripala Sirisena was the Chief Guest on the 23rd, which was the last day of the fest. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Harsha De Silva was also present. Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga and Advisor to the Ministry of Policy Planning Dinesh Weerakkody welcomed the President.

Source ://

Tourism take off tapering

  • SLAITO Chief warns of a demand slowdown if marketing campaign doesn’t kickoff
  • Says post war temporary demand has stalled
  • Expresses concern over SriLankan Airlines probable cancellation of flights to Europe
  • Suggests funding  of the promotional campaign via allocating portions of increased NBT tax in addition to airport tax
  • Proposes to establish a tourism sector centric research agency and appointment of an international PR agency

Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is said to be losing its early post-war charm with sluggish growth in numbers due to the absence of a proper strategic market plan.

Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) President Devindre Senaratne told the Daily FT that due to lack of a proper promotional plan the country is losing millions in foreign exchange to many countries who have positioned themselves well in the world tourism market.


SLAITO President Devindre Senaratne

“After war Sri Lanka was number one news and made a great impact in tourism generating markets, thereby creating a temporary demand which lasted over two years. However you could see that the demand has stalled and tour operators are forced to continue with aggressive promotions from time-to-time to fill up empty hotel rooms because we don’t have a proper marketing campaign to back us up.” he stressed.

According to United Nations World Tourism Organisation Asia is currently the hot spot for tourism yet Sri Lanka has not garnered its true potential. Sri Lanka was recognised by many international news papers as a top destination in the region. Sunday Times UK, UNESCO and the New York Times are a few to be named.

He went on to say that “The tourism industry is further suppressed by monies not allocated with this year’s budget to carry out the big plans which were in the pipeline. The Campaign was to make the Sri Lankan tourism sector get close to a $ 10 billion industry by 2022. This means higher revenue to the government through taxes and most industries benefiting including 250,000 job opportunities for the sector will be missed.”

However Senaratne  was confident that the officials will take required action to fast track the process and pointed out that the campaign can be funded by allocating a share of the increased tax rates on the tourism industry via the budget this year.

“Authorities can develop a mechanism to generate funds through part of the increased NBT for our sector in addition to the airport tax. This would enable to deploy a professional International advertising and PR company to develop and execute the plan effectively.”

Furthermore he showed concern over the odds of canceling Sri Lankan Airline’s flights to Europe as the national air carrier restructures its bottom line targets.

“It is disturbing to note that there is a possibility that Sri Lankan Airlines will curtail and cancel its flights to Europe our biggest primary market where we want to showcase Sri Lanka prominently as a holiday destination.”

“I’m confident that with a Nation Branding exercise in mind and proposed marketing activities in place, the Prime Minister’s objective in promoting Europe will be highly successful. We are sure to receive additional 250,000 leisure tourists per year in addition to corporate and ethnic guests from Western Europe in the next 5 years if this happens. Therefore considering the continuation of flights to Europe is of importance for SriLankan Airlines to support tourism and many other industries,” Senaratne  added.

He also proposed that Sri Lanka should establish a research agency and PR Company to position Sri Lanka and achieve its desired goals with respect to tourism in order for the industry to be more resourceful.

“A popular research agency statistics shows that 48% of the total visitors to Sri Lanka stayed in guest houses and other non-hotel accommodation (house stays). The aggressive and competitive online tour operators were the most used channel for them to book these places. This is a good research to prove that only a 50% increase has taken place in the formal sector mainly due to the lack of a proper marketing plan in place.”

Additionally he noted: “We need to establish a proper research agency to continuously get market information for decision making, appointment of an international advertising & PR company to position Sri Lanka and deliver our desired goals taking into account unique experiences and conveying this to our potential clients in these important.”

Tourist arrivals in the first 11 months have increased by 18% to 1.59 million. However soon after assuming duties Tourism Minister John Amaratunga raised questions over the credibility of data dished out in recent years by the tourism authorities.

Source :