Sri Lanka will be calling for a fresh round of bids from digital publicity agencies to carry out the long-delayed digital media campaign to promote the country’s tourism industry, a cabinet spokesperson said yesterday.
The calling of bids will be handled by the Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry, following the recommendation of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The campaign’s main focus will be to promote Sri Lanka as a favourite destination among German, French, British, Indian and Chinese tourists, the spokesperson said.
The responsibility of coming up with a digital marketing campaign for the country’s tourism industry was recently entrusted with a special committee appointed by the CCEM amid several attempts to launch such a campaign at various instances failed.
The move, despite the existence of a specific promotional arm (Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB)) within the tourism apparatus, was to expedite the process and increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
The special committee consists of Tourism Development Ministry Secretary Esala Weerakoon, SLTPB Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, National Agency for Public-Private Partnerships Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka, Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando and top businessman Dhammika Perera.
Tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka in the first 11 months, which grew only by 2.5 percent year-on-year to 1.87 million, were affected by the partial closure of the country’s main airport, dengue outbreak and flooding.
Over the last several years, Sri Lanka has been talking about a fully-fledged destination marketing campaign to promote the country’s tourism offerings.
However, change of governments, procurement scandals and bureaucratic red tape delayed such a campaign being launched.
The government had as recently as this October, hoped to kick off the digital marketing campaign and a more traditional global advertising campaign through television by January 2018.
Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga a couple of weeks back told Mirror Business that the latter was still a possibility despite the delays with regards to the digital campaign.
In excess of Rs.2 billion has already been collected by the tourism authorities from hoteliers and travel agencies through the Tourism Development Levy as well as through the Departure Tax for the purpose of promoting the country.