By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
Sri Lanka tourism should completely rethink its tourism branding strategy to leverage its culture, in order to entice the new age traveller who seeks uniqueness in diversity, according to a leading global tourism consultant.
“The Indian Ocean countries haven’t caught up to the new trends. New age travellers are looking for culture, religious ceremonies, life of tea estate pluckers, food and architecture. We’re sitting on a gold mine here,” QUO CEO David Keen said.
He noted that the current strategy of diluting Sri Lanka’s unique selling prepositions to eight facets is ineffective, as other countries too have similar wildlife, beaches, etc.
“The Wonder of Asia does not portray all of these… You should define Sri Lanka for the people, the truth and its diversity, for the future traveller,” Keen said.
Highly placed officials within the national tourism organisations, leading private sector companies and renowned local consultants too have been criticizing the branding strategy for its broadness.
While the strategy was conceived by the previous regime under the Economic Development Ministry, the current Tourism and Sports Ministry continues to follow the same practices. Meanwhile, Keen said that focusing on the culture and the people would make citizens of Sri Lanka feel proud as well.
However, he noted that such a task cannot be achieved by the private sector alone and cited successful branding campaigns of New Zealand and Kerala.
“Public-private partnerships made Kerala a state of tourism…
So let’s not leave it to the private sector. Brands (businesses), no matter how small, need to be working with the government, especially since Sri Lankan brands have less resources compared to global giants,” he said.
Keen added that the process must be done in a transitional manner, so as not to neglect the traditional travellers.
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