The Competitiveness Program gets another $ million for a PR campaign to re-attract tourists to the island.
Sri Lanka’s hopes for the return of tourists in 2005 will get a boost from the new Tourism Communications Project. Managed by Nathan Associates and J.E. Austin Associates, the project is countering the misperception that Sri Lanka was so devastated by the tsunami that its tourism industry can’t accommodate vacationers.
Funded by USAID under The Competitiveness Program, the project’s main activity is a media campaign targeting European and Indian vacationers that will run throughout the summer and fall. The campaign will reassure tourists that Sri Lanka has recovered sufficiently to provide a safe and healthy vacation experience.
The campaign will feature television and radio commercials, ads in travel magazines, trade fair exhibits, and travel promotion road shows. The message is simple: “Come enjoy Sri Lanka.” It will highlight the country’s diversity and will appeal to nature, culture, history, and adventure enthusiasts, even those interested in the island’s ayurvedic and health spa offerings.
The Sri Lankan Tourism Board and SriLankan Airlines, which launched its own $2.1 million advertising campaign in late May, are working with the project and the tourism cluster on the campaign. This partnership will result in a 60 percent increase in media coverage, penetration, and frequency.
At a press conference, USAID Mission Director Carol Becker stressed that the project is the is the first of its kind and reflects the importance of tourism to Sri Lanka's economy. She credited the long-term work of Nathan Associates and Austin with the tourism cluster and the assessment that The Competitiveness Program and the cluster carried out after the disaster to devise a plan to help Sri Lankan tourism recapture its market.
The success of the media campaign will be measured not only by how quickly tourist arrivals and hotel occupancy rates return to pre-tsunami levels, but also by the transfer of knowledge about managing communication and by improved public-private cooperation in promoting Sri Lanka tourism in the world market.