Sri Lanka all set to kick off long-overdue campaign

After repeated delays in the past years, Sri Lanka will finally roll out the first phase of a multi-year, US$45 million campaign later this month.

Managing director of the state-run Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), Sutheash Balasubramaniam, said a US$650,000 campaign will roll out on CNN platforms by end April, while a larger, six-month digital marketing campaign targeting China, India, the UK, Germany and France worth US$3.5 million would be ready by end May.

SLTPB is finally ready to launch a tourism campaign that has been delayed time and again; traditional stilt fishermen at sunset near Galle pictured

Other networks such as CCTV, NDTV (India) and Al-Jazeera will also be used in these campaigns.

Once the digital campaign tapers off, a US$41 million global marketing campaign will take off as part of a three-year programme later this year. Sri Lanka is targeting 2.3 million arrivals this year from 2.1 million in 2017.

Balasubramaniam said the global marketing campaign will focus on the five main markets and three others, which are likely to be the Middle East, Australia and Japan, in addition to promotion in other smaller markets.

Harith Perera, president of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators, which is represented on the SLTPB board, said the digital campaign will be across all digital platforms and social media in those five key markets. “We are targeting all social media and B2C customers. The global marketing campaign later in the year encapsulates everything, above the line, below the line, to digital,” he added.

Consideration is also given to the MICE market, according to Achini Dandunnage, senior manager at the main Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau. “When calling for proposals to appoint special representatives, they will be asked to include one day specifically for MICE buyers in a two- to three-day overseas roadshow.”

She said they are targeting incentive houses and conference organisers while special fam tours – separate from destination management marketers – are also being arranged under these campaigns.

The latest developments are spelling hope for the Sri Lankan trade, which has for years been anticipating the launch of the campaign.

Shiromal Cooray, managing director, Jetwing Travels, said: “This (campaign) is long overdue and the quicker it starts the better. Our visitors and potential visitors need to be constantly reminded about Sri Lanka and its attractions. While other countries have been very high in ‘top of the mind’ marketing, Sri Lanka has been inadequate in this area.”

Mahen Kariyawasam, managing director of Andrews Travels, hopes the campaign would “finally get off the ground”, deeming it key to create buzz about the destination in key markets such as India and China.

Devindre Senaratne, managing director of Journey Scapes Travel, added: “The non-existence of a marketing plan had forced upmarket resorts to sell at three-star rates, losing an opportunity to attract at least 500,000 high spending guests in the next few years.”

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