Small miracle puts tourism ministry in muddle

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry is re-considering the new logo ‘Sri Lanka Small Miracle’ launched with a big bash on June 23 after questions were raised over the word ‘small’ when ‘big’ things are happening or seen in this country, officials said.

Tourism Ministry Secretary George Michael told the Sunday Times issues had been raised over the use of the word ‘small’ in the new logo which was aimed at putting the country on the map again as a sought-after destination for tourists.

“The issues raised over the word ‘small’ have nothing to do with the ‘big’ success of the war but comments have been made that sometimes tourists may find big miracles instead of small ones here,” he said.

Mr Michael said that apart from the launch, not much (financial) resources had gone into the new campaign.. Asked whether President Mahinda Rajapaksa had raised concern over the logo, Mr Michael said, “Yes some have brought this to his notice but he has not given us any instructions. We have received other views on this and are looking at the logo once again.”

On Thursday, the President transferred Tourism Minister Milinda Moragoda to the post of Minister of Justice and Legal Reforms. No official reason was given for the move, but political sources said the logo issue was one of the reasons.

Mr. Michael said there was no issue with the word ‘miracle’. “Yes, there is re-thinking on the logo and we’ll bring a group of experts including the private sector to look at options.”

The new logo positioning Sri Lanka as a ‘hot’ destination comes in the afterglow of the end of the war and expectations that tourist arrivals will soar in coming years to more than one million, from an average of around 400,000 in the past two decades.

At the June 23 launch, President Rajapaksa spoke through a video presentation and declared 2011 as a ‘Visit Sri Lanka Year’.

Irvin Weerackody, Chairman of Phoenix Ogilvy Pvt Ltd, the communications partner of Sri Lanka Tourism which developed the logo and new campaign, said a lot of research went into the logo. Four logos were considered including ‘Find your miracle’, ‘Sri Lanka undiscovered’ and ‘Sri Lanka small miracle’.

Mr. Weerackody said the logos were pre-tested by research agency A.C. Nielsen in London amongst travellers whose choice was ‘Sri Lanka small miracle’ while there was also support for ‘Sri Lanka undiscovered’.

“We arrived at the logo decision because there was a lot of insight from travellers who said Sri Lanka had unbelievable diversity,” he added.

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