- Expert tells SL to abandon old models of destination marketing
- Says focus on mass tourism would be detrimental given new realities
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
Sri Lanka received a strong call to not continue to opt for old models of destination marketing in reviving tourism and was urged to be realistic about the recovery timeframe as the global scenario is not as optimistic as currently presented.
As tourism authorities and the industry await with bated breath to welcome travellers, a destination marketing expert stressed the country needs to rethink the entire mix.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, but the issue with the tunnel is that you come out from a different place from where you entered. The fact is that we are never going back to 2019.
We need to be realistic about the time fame for recovery we are not going to be normal by next January. That will not happen,” said Global Tourism Marketing Consultant Damian Cook, while deliberating on building the image of destination Sri Lanka in the post COVID-19 scenario.
Cook asserted that continuing to focus on attracting mass tourism, as Sri Lanka has been doing over the decades, would be detrimental for the industry as the future of this model is questionable going forward.
“You will grow your market by targeting millennials, the less risk-averse niche travellers. Target them and offer to them what they want,” he added.
Further, Cook also stressed the need to re-conceptualise the entire marketing communication strategy as gone are the days where print ads and tradeshows were going to work.
“These are all gone now,” he said while pointing out that one cannot fight change when it is knocking on the door.
Cook also highlighted that attempting to position Sri Lanka as one big brand with the message ‘Sri Lanka is safe and open’ is not going to sell.
“It’s about segmenting and specialising in those niches. We cannot let people dwell in fantasy. We are not going to fill 1000 hotel beds the next year. We have to be realistic,” he stressed.