Campaign push first priority for new Sri Lankan tourism chief

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s new chairman has come into office intent on speeding up a long-delayed destination marketing campaign, with a roll-out targeted in the next few weeks.


“The prime minister (is) emphatic in saying the bureaucracy has been very slow in getting the campaign off the ground. We need to kick-start it fast (and have) the first phase (ready) in the next 30 days,” said newly-appointed tourism chief Udaya Nanayakkara, former president of the Universal Federation of Travel Agents Associations.


Fishermen at the sunset near Galle, Sri Lanka 


The campaign, although ready for two to three years, has been delayed by bureaucratic red tape and procedural matters, forcing prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to appoint a new Tourism Task Force (TTF) last month to speed things up.


The 13-member committee, including Nanayakkara, comprises industry experts representing hotels, travel, marketing, adventure sport and human resources.


TTF member Dileep Mudadeniya, head of brand marketing at Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, added that the task force’s mid- to long-term objectives include removing roadblocks in implementation processes, improve domestic aviation and create new routes, improve visitor experience at heritage sites and develop family-friendly facilities in Colombo.


As well, TTF member Dinesh Weerakkody, advisor to the tourism minister and ‎chairman at the National Human Resource Development Council of Sri Lanka, said he has been tasked with preparing a strategy to fill 300,000 jobs in the industry by 2020.


Beyond the ministry’s target of four million arrivals by 2020, double of last year’s, Nanayakkara also wants to increase the daily spend to US$210 from the current US$154.


Nanayakkara was formerly chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism but stepped down in 2005 after two key trade associations rallied for his removal.

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