Green light to launch PR campaign in 12 destinations | Sunday Observer
‘Tourism sector recovering faster than expected’

Green light to launch PR campaign in 12 destinations

15 September, 2019
 The number of arrivals in August fell short of the figures anticipated by the SLTPB.  File pic: Lake House Media Library
The number of arrivals in August fell short of the figures anticipated by the SLTPB. File pic: Lake House Media Library

Sri Lanka Tourism has received approval to go ahead with the Public Relations (PR) campaign to promote the destination in 12 major tourism markets immediately, a top official of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) told the media in Colombo last week.

The much anticipated tourism promotion campaign had been in the back burner for several years resulting in the slowdown of growth in the sector which is till reeling from the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.

“We have received the green light to launch the PR campaign which will provide a fresh boost to the tourism sector which urgently needs a vibrant promotional program to position the destination not only as a safe location to visit but also as one of the ‘must visit’ locations in the world,” SLTPB Chairman Kishu Gomes said.

The US$ 1.3 billion campaign will comprise TV, radio, press and online campaigns in the 12 markets that have been earmarked for the promotion. UK, France, Germany, China, India, Australia, Poland and the Middle East are some of the counties where the PR campaign will be launched.

Sri Lanka Tourism officials are confident that the industry could meet its arrival target set for this year given the pace of recovery since the Easter attacks in April.

According to statistics, the number of arrivals up to September this year is 1.3 million. “We are quite optimistic that the 2 million arrival target this year could be achieved with the growth momentum we have gained over the past few months and the arrival of the winter season,” Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said. The events that have been lined up for the coming months, such as the International Surfing completion to be held in Arugam Bay and other events to mark the World International Tourism Day on September 27 are some of the reasons that Sri Lanka Tourism believes the arrival target this year could be achieved.

However, the number of arrival in August fell short of the figures anticipated by the SLTPB which expected around 170,000 visitors during the month due to the Kandy Perahera and the Bohra convention.

The number of tourists who arrived in the island in August was 143,587, a 28.3 percent dip from 200,359 recorded a year earlier. However, the arrivals in August were high from the sluggish pace recorded during the ensuing months of the Easter carnage.

The total number of visitors in the first eight months of this year too recorded a 19.9 percent decline compared to the corresponding period last year. The number of visitors since April 21 plummeted by around 71 percent year on year in May followed by 57 percent in June and 47 percent in July.

Sri Lanka Tourism anticipates more visitors to the country following the opening of the Palaly airport that will pave the way for regional airlines to touch down.

“All work on the airport will be completed soon and the airport will be ready for operations thereafter,” Amaratunga said.

However, according to Sri Lanka Tourism data, arrivals per day since April had increased over the months from 1,219 in May to 4,632 in August.

“The tourism industry is recovering faster than what we expected and I am confident we could touch the two million mark or little above that this year,” Gomes said.

The visa on arrival, reduction in the embarkation fees and hotel room rates and the move to slash aviation fuel prices were aimed at incentivising travellers to visit Sri Lanka. However, the anticipated rate of growth in arrivals from markets such as China has not taken place despite the promotional programs carried out by the SLTPB in Beijing mid this year. According to statistics, China rated as a major market for Sri Lanka tourism did not perform well in the past couple of months falling behind other markets, such as India and the Western markets.

Similarly the revenue loss from the setback is estimated to be high. However, Sri Lanka Tourism believes it could be contained in the range of US$ 800 to US$ 1 billion.

The free visa scheme for around 48 countries was launched in July for six months aimed at luring more visitors to the country. India followed by Australia, the United Kingdom and China have been the largest source markets for Sri Lanka in the recent years.

The official celebrations and exhibition and job fair to mark World Tourism Day will commence at the Arcade Independence Square on September 27 followed by the regional celebrations in Arugam Bay on September 28 in parallel to the World Surf League 2019.

This year’s World Tourism Day theme is ‘Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all’