The responsibility of coming up with a digital marketing campaign for the country’s tourism industry has been entrusted with a special committee appointed by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mirror Business learns.
The committee consists of Secretary to the Tourism Development Ministry Esala Weerakoon, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Udaya Nanayakkara, National Agency for the Public Private Partnerships Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka (SLTDA), Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando and top businessman Dhammika Perera.
The committee’s proposal in this regard will be submitted to the cabinet of ministers for approval.
The move, despite the existence of a specific promotional arm (SLTPB) within the tourism apparatus, was to expedite the process and increase the number of tourists visiting the country.
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, the dengue outbreak
and flooding. Over the last several years, Sri Lanka has been talking about a fully –fledged destination marketing campaign to lure in more tourists using both traditional and web-based media.
However, change of governments, procurement scandals and bureaucratic red tape delayed such a campaign being launched.
“Despite the floods, the dengue situation and the airport closure, we could have attracted a higher number of tourists this year had a proper destination marketing campaign, at least digital, was in place,” a tourism industry stakeholder who requested anonymity told Mirror Business.
He is among many tourism industry stakeholders to call for the perpetually delayed marketing campaigns to be implemented, since over Rs.2 billion had been accumulated from hoteliers and travel agencies through the Tourism Development Levy as well as through the Departure Tax for the purpose of promoting
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 last week told Mirror Business that the latter was still a possibility despite delays with regards to the digital campaign.