The Press Conference of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) at ITB 2018 was a well-attended event with the participation of high profile journalists largely from German speaking countries which included many popular media houses such as FVW, DPA, Dieweltapart from Discovery Channel andReuters.A large number of media participation was an encouragement of interests shown by journalists on Sri Lanka being the preferred long-haul holiday destination in Asia.
The Panel consisted of Hon. John Amaratunga, Minister of Tourism Development & Christian Religious Affairs, H.E.Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Ambassador of Sri Lanka for Germany,Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Managing Director, SLTPB. The Tourism industry was represented on the panel by Mahen Kariyawasam, Past President, Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO),Sanath Ukwatte, President, The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) and Rohan Abeywickrama, President, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism (ASMET).
At the opening remarks, the Ambassador welcomed the media personnel and stated that Sri Lanka has made an impact in promoting the country as a favourable tourism destination.
The Ambassador Hettiarachchi highlighted that Sri Lanka is steadily moving towards economic development with a remarkable progress and a promising growth following the end of the conflict. Further, he emphasized that Sri Lanka hasa variety of tourism products to offer to prospective German travelers.
Minister Amaratunga highlighted that Sri Lanka’s unbroken record of participation at ITB, especially during the conflict period and faith placed by German and European travelers in Sri Lanka during the difficult era. The minister highlighted on the three- year tourism strategic plan and key developments taking place in the country. He spoke of the planned creation of a completely new city in the heart of Colombo featuring state of the art hotels, shopping malls, theme parks, marinas and the cutting edge infrastructure for multi-sensory entertainment. Planned development of domestic airports, sea ports and the addition of new terminal for international airport for tourist travel were also noted by the minister.
He further highlighted the safety factor and the measures to expand the Tourist Police services in the country with emphasis on training those personnel involved in the tourism industry including taxi drivers.
Sutheash Balasubramaniam Managing Director, SLTPB presented the unique selling propositions of Sri Lanka to be the preferred destination in Asia. He highlighted thenew developments and about the planned digital and global campaigns. Presentation further briefed about the world class events such as Asian Choir Games, IRONMAN and “Sound of Music” Broadway show, which were held for the first time in South Asia with a view to make Colombo a happening place.
The press actively engaged in question & answer session and showed interest on the diversity of the products offered by a small Island nation.
The press conference was timely in the current context of disturbance and was a fitting platform to inform the media on the accurate and latest situation in the country and to negate any negative sentiments echoed in the international arena. The questions related to the current situation in Kandy were raised only by two journalists out the 80 media attendees.
The International Media Market (IMM) was a journalists’ networking session coincided ITB Berlin which was attended by SLTPB for the second consecutive year. The event was held on 6th March 2018, the day before ITB in order to create an international platform for all reputed media to connect with National Tourism Boards attending ITB. Over 100 print and online media including bloggers from German speaking countries attended the media market which offered vast opportunities to be linked up with top ranked international media houses to get their support to create awareness of the destination Sri Lanka globally.
The ITB Berlin News which is the official newspaper of ITB, issued on a daily basis during the event carried an exclusive interview with minister Amaratunga. Additionally, SLTPB published two advertisements in the paper on day 1 and day 2 of the event in order to create greater focus on Sri Lanka. This news bulletin is distributed to all trade visitors, exhibitors and media attending ITB amounting to over 15,000 copies.
In addition to media awareness, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau successfully branded the ITB venue with megaadvertising banners. These were showcased at prominent entrances to Sri Lanka pavilion harmonizing the advertising theme of the stand. The maximum visibility of the destination was given by these onsite branding opportunities.
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