Deputy Minister Arundika Fernando, SNAV President Jean Pierre Mas, Secretary General Jean Marc Roze, Ambassador Tilak Ranavirajah, Sri Lanka Trade Counsellor Alexi Gunasekera and CEO SLCB Vipula Wanigasekera
SNAV members with Sri Lanka participants at IFTM Travel Fair in Paris
Syndicate National Des agents de Voyages – SNAV – the travel agents’ association in France at its Executive Board meeting recently voted unanimously for Sri Lanka as a venue for its congress 2016 against other contenders.
This is considered a landmark occasion for Sri Lanka Tourism not only with the winning of the bid but also the opportunity to show case Sri Lanka to over 700 French travel agents when they are hosted for the congress in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Convention Bureau backed by the Ministry of Tourism and Christian Affairs, Embassy of France, Tourism Promotion Bureau together with SriLankan Airlines and industry stakeholders pursued the bidding process to its final success.
“It was laborious work and a hectic process with a collective effort,” said Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) CEO Vipula Wanigasekera adding, “We must thank former Minister Naveen Dissanayake for pushing us for SNAV.”
The factors that attributed to the winning of the bid according to the SLCB were several fold. First was the effective communication with SNAV in the research as to what would trigger members’ interest to vote for Sri Lanka. Second was the participation of everyone with their commitment for SNAV as a collective exercise - apart from the tourism authorities, bidding committee comprised all tourism associations.
Third was the preparation and presenting a professional bid document which dealt with SNAV specifications with eye-catching pictorial presentation of what the visitors would experience in Sri Lanka. Fourth was the professional approach adapted by the SLCB when competing for an event of this nature.
Finally, the bid was formally handed over at the IFTM Top Resa to SNAV President Jean Pierre Mas and Secretary General Jean Marc Roze. IFTM pavilion of Sri Lanka after being ushered by the Sri Lankan traditional dance troupe thus making the event colourful specially with the formal assurances given by the government through letters of commitment by the deputy minister, ambassador, the SLCB, SLTPB and SriLankan as well as industry partners CCTHA, THASL, SLAITO and SriLankan Airlines.
Prior to this Sri Lanka made presentations to French travel agents and French media in a country promotion on the previous day which reinforced Sri Lanka’s capacity to handle the event with international standard while giving the delegates a memorable experience, should Sri Lanka won the contest.
French tourist arrivals have moved up from 16,205 in 2009 to almost 80,000 in 2014 and this year so far the increase is almost 10 percent. France is a primary tourism market for Sri Lanka and through this event Sri Lanka wishes to open her full tourism potential to French market in the coming years.
“This is the biggest opportunity,” said Wanigasekera, adding “France also produces the highest number of incentive travellers from Europe and that is another key factor for Sri Lanka to bid for this conference where the buyers would get a first-hand experience of the development in the country with access to many locations and products at a time Sri Lanka is looking for value against numbers. We got DMC experts who could offer creative programmes with ‘Wow factors’ which is the USP in Incentive Travel over Leisure’.