Business Times

Web marketing to push forward tourism promo: Godahewa

The long-awaited Sri Lankan tourism promotion campaign is likely to be finalised within three months with web marketing set to take priority. “I strongly believe that the future of tourism belongs to the web,” Sri Lanka Tourism Authority Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told the Business Times on Wednesday in Colombo.

He noted that while the industry is currently at the discussion stage in ascertaining as to what is required for the conduct of a promotional campaign they are likely to arrive at a decision within three months.
While the industry believes that the campaign is likely to kick start by about October, the authority chief observes this is impossible as the development of the campaign takes about six months. With diverse views emanating during discussions as to the conduct of the campaign, he noted that while some were acceptable it is also noteworthy that they need to look at the current modes of engaging the consumer as well.

Mr. Godahewa pointed out that while web based marketing involves only a small amount of money the big impact is greater due to the wider outreach. On the other hand, a heavy cost is incurred when carrying out mass media promotions on newspapers or television channels the latter which lasts for only a few minutes.

Moreover, Sri Lanka Tourism is today engaging the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the Board of Investment (BOI) and the Export Development Board (EDB) in a bid to carry out a joint promotional campaign. This is expected to have a bigger impact with a better appeal to attract larger numbers and with the ability to increase the spend as well on the budgeted allocation.

It was pointed out that while the earnings from Sri Lanka Tourism stands at US$9 million with only 50% of it allowed to be utilised for promotion as only 1% of the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) is contributed towards this end.

As a result this will not be sufficient to impact in a big way, Mr. Godahewa noted adding that the SLTB on the other hand would be capable of allocating larger sums in this regard. Currently, Sri Lanka Tourism is also carrying out a number of travel promotions with participation of the foreign travel agents and overseas journalists through familiarization tours.

In this respect, todate about 86 journalists have participated in these fam tours with about 200 targeted by the end of this year while a number of travel agents have also visited the country, Mr. Godahewa said.
Further, the government is involved in the conduct of roadshows that have increased from last year’s 16 to 18 in 2011.

Govt. invests Rs.3 million in web promo
The government has incurred a cost of Rs.3 million for its “Visit Me” promotional campaign launched last week with the intention attracting tourists through locals. With the intention of attracting locals to the website the government hopes that this will create an inspiration among where one is able to upload videos and photographs that could be then linked up to friends around the globe. website is an interactive website that allows the locals to engage in and find out about Sri Lanka Tourism and how they can get involved. Already cricketer Kumar Sangakkara, entrepreneur and model Otara Chandiram and actress Jacqueline Ferdinandes have opened their pages on the site.

The website has direct links to Facebook and Twitter allowing users to get immediately connected and encourage friends and relatives to join in and find out more about Sri Lanka travel online.

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