Financial Times

Two ambitious projects to promote domestic tourism launched

Two ambitious projects were launched this week to mark World Tourism Day, the 'Yapahuwa City Project' aimed at developing an environmentally sound model city and the 'Narabamu Sri Lanka' campaign aimed at tapping into the vast potential in the domestic tourism market.

At a press conference to explain these projects, Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism George Michael said the Yapahuwa project will be implemented with the cooperation of the Ministries of Urban Development, Environment and Highways in addition to the Ministry of Tourism.

Mr. Michael said the model city will use alternative energy measures, tree planting and garbage disposal initiatives and will also be designed to offset carbon. Yapahuwa is a rock fortress located off the Kurunegala-Anuradhapura road and is considered to be an extraordinary architectural site.

The Narabamu campaign is a new strategic push to spur domestic tourism in Sri Lanka. It is a campaign designed to offer Sri Lankans a variety of fresh attractions spread throughout the island. Mr. Michael said the country has a lot to offer for the discerning traveler and believes the project will generate interest and create awareness at the community level and encourage people to conserve their local history and heritage. Shafraz Farook from the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) said the Narabamu campaign is the perfect opportunity to increase the value of the market. He pointed out that international research has shown in countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom and South Africa that domestic tourism can match or surpass international tourism.

The campaign aims to increase the 50 % occupancy rates in 2007, help to improve the quality of products and services, sustain occupancy levels and create confidence in international visitors by strengthening the Sri Lanka tourism brand against competition from budget holidays overseas.

Mr. Farook said the 360-degree communications campaign will include two television programmes, an elaborate series of stories and visuals to be published in newspapers and magazines as well as a website which will bring together both the print and television campaigns along with much more information including special offers from hotels, other services and useful information for travelers. The two 30-minute television programmes will be designed by media and cinema personalities, Jackson Anthony and Hema Nalin Karunaratne.

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