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Tue, 02 September 2014 18:07:50
Sri Lanka top tourism groups renew call for destination marketing
15 Nov, 2012 11:15:35
Nov 15, 2012 (LBO) - Two of Sri Lanka's largest resort chains which also have operations in Maldives have renewed a call for tourism authorities to market the island effectively partnering with the those in the business.
Susantha Ratnayake chairman Sri Lanka's John Keells group said in a statement to shareholders last week that while Maldivian resorts had higher occupancies Sri Lanka was weakening.

Sri Lanka experienced a tourism boom with the end of a 30-year war. Sri Lanka's tourist businesses are charged a 'cess' by the state tourism agency, and the industry has been calling for a well funded destination program since the end of the war.

"Sri Lankan Resorts and Destination Management were adversely impacted as a result of a disappointing summer," Ratnayake said.

"We continue to reiterate the importance of a focused, Sri Lanka centric, destination marketing strategy to attract the relevant visitor segments in ensuring year-round occupancies and yields which justify continued investment in this industry."

Authorities have generally said that with a strong influx of tourists, a large marketing program was not needed at that time, especially since Sri Lanka did not yet have enough rooms.

Instead tourism promotion has relied on internet campaigns and promotions targeted as specific markets, which cost less money. Tourism authorities have been focusing on expanding infrastructure.

This week, Harry Jayewardene chairman of Aitken Spence, which also has operations in the Maldives added his voice to the call.

"In the present global context of turbulence and uncertainty, we see a clear opportunity for Sri Lanka to position itself strongly as a preferred destination for high-value travellers," Jayewardene said.

"Hence, we believe that a robust private sector-led destination promotion strategy that underscores the country’s unique set of diverse attractions would help Sri Lanka’s brand positioning internationally."

Sri Lanka's larger chains have tended to call for a focus on 'high end' tourism but authorities have taken a more egalitarian and liberal stance, even having a strategy for back packers.

Analysts say active destination marketing however can help all segments of the industry regardless of the financial wealth of the customer.

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