More promos needed to reap benefits of tourism

Sri Lanka is an island destination blessed with such varied attractions from our heritage, scenic routes, wildlife, tea plantations, our cuisine, different cultures and religions and their beliefs and rituals, Ayurveda, etc, I am confident that we are unmatched.

We speak and most understand English and we have guides who speak other international languages such as French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, etc.

Sri Lanka is reasonably priced for the upmarket real explorer and presently earns approximately US$3 billion foreign exchange and have great opportunities to be a $10 billion industry in the next 5-7 years. There are many international hotel chains who have already committed to Sri Lanka considering its demand which is a good platform to market Sri Lanka and also to attract other foreign direct investments.

We are confident the development of new highways and railway systems would add value to our tourism product.

After the war in 2009 especially in 2010 we saw an unusual demand for Sri Lanka having over 40 per cent increases year-on-year until around 2012. We experienced high spending tourists who were waiting to explore the country. Sri Lanka was slowly getting popular and the demand was increasing for tailor-made tours visiting all our popular places of interest.

However, in the absence of a proper marketing execution plan we were unable to continue to reap the benefits. In addition we have to now improve the product and its facilities such as conveniences in places of interest and developing new products which make travelling and holidays more exciting.

There are bottlenecks in terms of long procedures and procurement processes especially when awarding contracts to carry out in- depth marketing activities. However, this is the need of the hour. Focused marketing activities in tourism generating markets will easily attract an additional 250,000 visitors in winter ( November to April) from Europe, Russia and CIS countries and an additional 400,000 tourists from China, India and West Asia during the off- peak periods in the next 2- 3 years; otherwise we will see unwanted competition and price aggression which will be a disadvantage to our foreign exchange earnings.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau participates in all important and popular trade fairs. This is important to have one-to-one meetings with tour operators and meeting up with journalists, etc. The bureau is busy participating in over 15-20 trade fairs a year in tourism generating markets, 7-8 road shows a year, FAM tours for journalists and the result being some of the best known newspapers and magazines rating Sri Lanka as one of the top places to visit during the last four years. The authorities have also just commenced an advertising campaign in the London Underground.

However, Sri Lanka Tourism needs a proper research analysis and with these results formulate an international marketing plan and a strategy including the appointing of an International Advertising and Public Relations company so that all consumer promotions are focused and integrated.

Source : http://epaper.dailymirror.lk/epaper/viewer.aspx

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