Sri Lanka Tourism to attract travellers to a??Visit Sri Lankaa??

“………Six star world surfing festival at Arugambay……..”

Tourism industry to target over 700, 000 tourists by end 2011; campaign to market destination on key TV channels

Quibron-t treatment

(L-R)A? Director Marketing Sri Lanka Tourism, Dileep Mudadenia and Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism George Michael in Conversation while Minister of Tourism Promotion, Faizer Mustapha and Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Bernard Gunathilake answers the questions raised by the media. Pic by Varuna Wanniarachchi

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A value and price driven global “Visit Sri Lanka 2011″A? campaign costing Rs.1.3 million is geared to attract 765, 000 tourists by the end ofA? 2011.

The key objectives of the campaign a??Visit Sri Lanka 2011a?? are harnessing the financial and economic potential of the tourism sector, make tourism the fourth largest foreign exchange earner, creating income generating opportunities at all levels mainly at the local and rural economy level to increase income from tourism, enhancing global awareness for Sri Lanka on the internet from 3% to 5% and increasing the average expenditure of tourist per day from USD 80 to USD 90.

Targeting UK, France, Germany, India and the Middle East, the campaign with its new communication strategy encompassing the electronic media will air the campaign via BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN and Discovery Travel & Living during a 20 week period starting November 20. The campaign is set to start off with 60 second TV commercials for five weeks after which 30 second commercials will be aired.

The Promotion Bureau also stated that the commercials will be extended to Japan as well with the assistance of Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and also to China. Negotiations are also in place with National Geographic Magazine, Time and Newsweek to carry a print campaign early next year.

Recognizing the role of social marketing in todaya??s business world, the Sri Lanka Tourism hopes to encourage high profile Sri Lankans including entrepreneurs, fashion icons and leading business people to come onboard to blog for Sri Lanka on Twitter.

a??With the new developments in May this year we are positive that this campaign will help lure the tourists towards Sri Lanka and support the achievement of the target of 2.5 million tourists in 2016 set by the President,a?? Minister of Tourism Promotion, Faizer Mustapha said. a??Achieving this target also means that Tourism can lift its current position of 6th highest foreign exchange earner of the country to the 3rd or even the 1st.a??

a??Average growth rate of tourism from 2001-2004 has been recorded as 19%. If that is applied to the current scenario that would only mean 1.5 million tourists by 2016, therefore extensive promotional campaigns should be done and this international campaign is one of them.a??

The tourism industry which incurs some USD 400 million per annum is also in the position to increase the money brought in to USD 2.5 billion by 2016. a??Arrangements are being made to welcome the target tourists in seven years time. Promoting Sri Lanka as a prime destination implies employee opportunities to balloon up to 600,000 and raise the number of dependants of the industry to some two million persons,a?? alleged Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Bernard Gunathilake.

Extensive development is needed to comply with the target set by President Rajapaksa and the bulk of the development will take place in the East, Mr. Gunathilake assured. Pasikudah, Northern Trinco and the North Western area, i.e. Kalpitiya is thus focused on for development. He stated that some 4000-8000 rooms is planned to come up in Northern Trinco and 4000-5000 rooms in Kalpitiya. 36,000 more rooms are said to be needed to compliment the 2.5 million.

Mr. Gunathilake also stated that five islands off Kalpitiya were put out for sale and that a large number of applications were received. a??This will be processed by the end of next week,a?? he said.

Tourism being a front-end industry has recorded a high influx of tourist arrivals said President of the Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, Srilal Miththapala. However Sri Lanka has lost out on 10-15 years of competition to other countries in the region and is in dire need of refurbishment. a??A three star hotel in Thailand is much better than a four star hotel in Sri Lanka. Our hoteliers are looking forward for the refurbishment of their hotels soon and are thankful for the propositions of duty free facilities rendered to hoteliers for two years and investment relief on property,a?? Mr. Miththapala said. The small and medium enterprises offering excursion, adventure and water sports etc will also benefit in the long run as well as the inbound tour operations.

The Tourism Authority also put forward several proposals for the industry to be looked at during the coming months. A complementary bus or shuttle service from the Airport to Colombo, seat in coach tours, free shopping shuttles and user friendly airport system were among some of them. Events such as the International Spice Festival starting today, Galle Film Fest, Tea Fest, Six star world surfing festival at Arugambay, tuk tuk rallies and celebrations for the 2600 year anniversary of Buddha Jayanthi were mentioned.


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