By Nishel Fernando
As Sri Lanka’s tourism sector is heading for a major slowdown following the Easter Sunday bombings, tourism industry stakeholders are expected to hold an urgent meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena this morning to discuss priority action required to mitigate the situation.
The industry stakeholders are expected to discuss possible measures to soften or lift the travel warnings issued by key tourism source markets including India, China, the United Kingdom (UK), the United States and Germany.
The members of Tourism Advisory Committee and officials of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Ministry on Friday held a lengthy discussion on the key points that should be taken up during today’s meeting.
“They proposed to have a separate meeting with foreign diplomats and make a request to lift or soften the travel warnings.
“The tourism industry also wants the top officials of law enforcement agencies and representatives of security forces to make an announcement to foreign media regarding the prevailing situation of the country,” a participant of the meeting told Mirror Business.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Development Ministry is planning to appoint J. Walter Thompson (JWT) to carry out a global publicity campaign to rebuild the image of Sri Lanka.
JWT was responsible for developing Sri Lanka’s new tourism brand and tagline ‘So Sri Lanka,’ which was launched in World Travel Mart in London last year.
JWT submitted a proposal to Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) and the board members of SLTPB had approved the proposal last week.
Meanwhile, the preparation of a Cabinet memorandum is currently underway to award the publicity campaign to JWT.
A ministry official noted that once the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) Chairman Kishu Gomes returns to the country from Arabian Travel Mart in Dubai this week, the memorandum would be finalised to be presented to the Cabinet.
Prior to flying to Dubai last week, Gomes told Mirror Business that SLTPB would continue to promote Sri Lanka tourism brand and its products while creating awareness around security aspects.
He said 60 delegations from Sri Lanka’s tourism industry were expected to participate in Arabian Travel Mart which kicked off yesterday.
The government would also be launching a promotional campaign on CNN in the coming weeks.
Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) President Harith Perera told Mirror Business that Sri Lanka’s tourism promotional strategy may change following the terrorist attacks.
“The CNN campaign will continue and we may look at some other channels as well. The whole promotional strategy will change now. It’s now all about re-creating that image and assuring the safety,” he stressed.
SLTPB is now planning to launch the three-year global promotional campaign this September, targeting winter bookings.