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Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Strategy Leads Emerging Markets to Change the Tourism Mosaic of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Tourism arrivals domain has been changed by the emerging new markets occupying the place of long held traditional dominant markets according to the arrival statistics issued for January 2014. This can be seen as an effective result of the strategic promotional campaigns executed in year 2013, giving much focus on the identified emerging markets than totally relying on the traditional European markets for growth.

The growth factors of the emerging markets compared with 2013 January vs. 2014 January, recorded extremely high levels of improvement. According to the latest arrival figures, the highly focused emerging markets such as China has gained 3rd place, Russia move up to 4th place while India remaining at 01st followed by Ukraine, Australia as graphically illustrated .

Arrivals from East Asia increased to 95.6% with arrivals from China recording a significant 224% growth. South Asia recorded 14.6% growth with India contributing the highest number of arrivals 17,886 up from 16,938 with 5.6% rise. The arrivals from traditional Western European market though relatively low to emerging markets recorded 17.9% growth while UK recording 13.6% increase. However Eastern Europe arrivals have increased by 63.6% as a result of effective, targeted, well designed promotional campaigns executed in those countries. Russia leads the arrivals board from East Europe recording 91.6% growth . Other regions also scored high levels of growth namely Australasia scoring 15.1% ,USA recording 31.5% and North America with 22.4% growth levels.

The strategic promotional campaigns of Sri Lanka Tourism were designed on the instruction and direct guidance of the Minister of Economic Development, Hon.Basil Rajapaksa, and secretary to the Ministry of Economic Development Dr.P.B.Jayasundara, using different tools and methods which were far away with traditional promotional activities. Accordingly, Sri Lanka Tourism carried out aggressive mega promotional campaigns in many emerging markets in year 2013, namely China, Russia, Ukraine, India etc in order to increase awareness, product knowledge on the destination.

Spotlight on China

During the mega tourism promotional campaign in China, Sri Lanka Tourism launched a Bill Board Advertising Campaign in the city of Beijing, going parallel to a series of other promotional activities such as promoting Sri Lanka through,

• Light box advertising,
• print media advertisements ,
• Radio jingles
• Web sites
• PR campaigns to create awareness

The BillBoard campaign is the first ever promotion of its kind ever to be executed in Chinese market at this scale. The LED backlit hoarding screens will be displayed in over 21 strategic locations in Beijing , These bill locations showcasing major tourism attractions in Sri Lanka including history and culture, beaches, wildlife, festivals, ayurveda and spa, gem & jewellery that are of interest to the Chinese travelers. Meanwhile Prominent places in 18 subway railway stations in Beijing have been identified to promote high spots of tourism attractions in Sri Lanka through this campaign.

• A major Bus branding Campaign has also been launched parallel to the advertising promotions for a 06 months period which is active in china to this date. The Bus Advertising Campaign which was conducted with the branding of 300 buses among the Chinese public living and visiting cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chendu and Guangzhou.

• Sri Lanka Tourism also launched a major advertising campaign in Shanghai city covering outdoor hoardings, Radio , print media, websites which is on going in the Shanghai city currently, multiplying the effect generated by Beijing campaign.

• Some of the policy decisions made with the support of Chinese government such as removing exist permit, agreement to promote 100,000 tourists to Sri Lanka etc. have contributed to increase the travelers from China. Further the two governments signed agreements to promote Sri Lanka through major Chinese Travel Media , as a result some of the leading Chinese TV channels such as China Travel Channel , Outlook Traveller China, CCTV 6 and Print media visited Sri Lanka totaling up to 56 media personalities during 2013. Sri Lanka Tourism also brought down many Chinese Travel Agents and tour operators from various cities to create awareness on the destination aimed at attracting prospective travelers.

Russian Promotions

In Russia, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau successfully conducted Mega Tourism Promotional campaigns and Tourism Road Shows such as,

• 16-19th March –St.Peatersburg –Russia
• 20-24th March-Moscow –Russia
• 24-27th April –Almathy –Russia
• 26-31th March –Kiev –Ukraine
• 9-10th April -Yerevan –Armenia

The Road shows which commenced on 17 March 2013 followed three week long promotional program . The campaign covered shopping mall activations, workshops for tour operators, cultural shows, photo exhibitions etc. targeting Russian travelers.

Indian Promotions

Sri Lanka Tourism also executed 02 major 3day promotional campaigns in India in the cities of Bangalore and Mumbai. The 3 day mega joint promotional campaign, named as “Get Sri Lankaned”, was featuring the joint efforts of key government institutions and private sector organizations in Sri Lanka creating a single collaborative platform for promoting travel, trade and investments of the country.

The promotions covered all areas of opportunity created for private and public sector organizations to interact and generate fruitful ventures to promote the two countries travel trade and industrial relations. The campaign featured an array of activities including media briefings, 'Sri Lankan Evenings' with fashion shows, Sri Lankan food festivals, B2B (business-to-business) meetings, travel and investment forums and shopping Mall activations between the travel traders of the two countries .

India was identified as a key potential market consisting vast opportunity for growth in areas related to travel and tourism trade of Sri Lanka while focusing to strengthen the trade and investment relations between the two countries. The main objective of the event is to promote destination Sri Lanka for the prospective travelers in India, given the fact that Indian market generates the highest number of travelers to Sri Lanka for many years.


SLTPB also carried out strategically important promotions in Australia to capture potential travellers. The Boxing Day advertising Campaign and the FAM Tours for main tour operators had created immense opportunity to create awareness on the destination for the prospective travelers from down under.

The all above promotions under the new promotional strategy paid off to increase travelers in great numbers from these countries as shown in January arrival figures getting front end numbers for China, Russia, India ,Ukraine recording 32.6% increase in arrivals during first month of the year. It also shows the appropriateness of the chosen strategies and effective execution and proper timing in order to reap the maximum benefits to the country’s tourism growth with confidence to venture into the untested waters.

With the new validation system in place , Sri Lanka Tourism was able to release the January arrivals in the very first week of the following month. The Tourism authorities have planned a global mega promotional campaign during year 2014 with will kick start from February onwards in order to keep the momentum going to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals target by 2016 , making Sri Lanka, the emerging Wonder of Asia.

Click Here to download arrival statistics issued for January 2014

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