Top News Sri Lanka’s marketing campaign takes off to arrest tourist slump By Feizal Samath / Posted on 10 June, 2019 10:19 Tourists trekking through tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka Tourist arrivals plummeted 70 per cent last month, owing to lack of travel confidence after the Easter Sunday bombings, but Sri Lanka’s travel industry hopes a new PR and destination marketing campaign will bring a turnaround. Arrivals in May slumped to 37,000 from 129,000 in the same month last year, Tourism Promotion Bureau chief Kishu Gomes said. He expects some recovery in June, albeit still with a 30-40 per cent drop in arrivals. Tourists trekking through tea plantations in Ella, Sri Lanka On Tuesday, the Cabinet of Ministers approved a six-month PR and destination marketing campaign valued at nearly one billion Sri Lankan rupees (US$5.7 million), which Mahen Kariyawasam, former head of the Inbound Tour Operators, said would mark the first phase in the recovery plan involving marketing. “The chosen agency, J Walter Thompson, will provide a final report on Monday (June 10) after which we will immediately start the PR campaign,” he told TTG Asia. It would be conducted in eight key markets including India, China and Britain. More than 250 people including 45 tourists died in Islamic extremist suicide attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels on Easter Sunday. Several countries immediately imposed travel restrictions but have since then softened these advisories. Countries that have relaxed their advisories include India, China, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Last Thursday, the UK relaxed its advisory to “be cautious’ from “avoid non essential travel”. Sanath Ukwatte, president of the Hotels Association, said doing so would send a signal of confidence to other European markets. Sri Lanka’s eight main markets are India, China, the UK, Germany, Russia, France, Australia and the US. Devindre Seneratne, travel consultant and former head of the Association of Inbound Tour Operators, said the PR campaign is aimed at restoring travel confidence. “It will discuss enhanced security measures at hotels and particularly in resorts where 90 per cent of the time visitors stay indoors,” he said. Meanwhile Sri Lanka Tourism, the Association of Inbound Tour Operators, the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka and SriLankan Airlines have joined hands to launch attractive promotional packages to stimulate the Indian market. The five packages include a combination of stays ranging from Colombo, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Dambulla, Sigiriya and more. The offer – which includes discounts on airfares and hotels – will be valid for stays from June 10 until September 30, 2019, available for booking and sale through the SriLankan Airlines Holidays network in India. Mastercard, which has over 180 million cardholders in India, has also come on board to promote these packages.