Sri Lanka Tourism has taken several strategic measures to increase visibility and appeal to a wider global audience both in key source as well as emerging niche markets. France is one such market of vital importance and accounts for anywhere between 4.5% -4.7% of the island's annual arrivals. As a key source market, Sri Lanka Tourism employs a synergistic strategy involving advertising, international public relations, digital marketing, events, and sponsorship activities to further position the destination. Participation in trade fairs is also a key initiative undertaken by Sri Lanka Tourism, the latest initiative includes participation at The International French Travel Mart (IFTM) TOP RESA, which is to be held between 5th-8th October 2021. A delegation from Sri Lanka, headed by Hon. Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunga, Hon. Sahan Pradeep (MP), Mr. S. Hettiarachchi, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Nimesh Herath, Advisor to the Hon. Minister of Tourism and Mr.M. Rukshana Daya Samantha Mallawarachchi, Coordinating Secretary to the Hon. Minister of Tourism are currently in France for the event. Mr. Viranga Bandara, Market Officer, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau along with numerous travel agents from Sri Lanka will also be attending the event (IFTM), considered to be the main travel fair in France.
The International French Travel Mart (IFTM) is one of the most prestigious events of its kind and attracts thousands of participants from around the globe. The opportunity to participate in this event will provide local representatives an invaluable opportunity to meet other visitors and suppliers, increase sales and create new business, boost brand image, review the latest market trends and changes, and schedule meetings with decision-makers, while learning from industry experts. The agents will be representing the island as part of an overall business-to-business initiative where the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau will provide promotional support to Travel Agents, along with a host of other initiatives to support the Sri Lankan contingent at the event. Sri Lanka Tourism will additionally host a promotional event targeting key tour operators and media during IFTM to further position Sri Lanka as the perfect destination for the French traveler.
Sri Lanka Tourism envisions tremendous potential in the French market and with the country positioned as the 5 th largest outbound market globally in terms of expenditure with over 1.9 million arrivals to Sri Lanka in 2019), the authorities see untapped potential in the luxury travel segment. With the goal of increasing the tourist arrivals from the French market along with increasing the average spend per day and the average length of stay of tourists visiting the Island, Sri Lanka Tourism has been active in the French market, with considerable visibility across all media, especially digital media. Recognizing that to attract the high yielding traveler it was important to change the marketing strategies and the positioning of Sri Lanka as a destination, Sri Lanka Tourism strategically initiating a digital marketing and advertising campaign targeting the luxury segment. In addition, Sri Lanka Tourism has pursued trade and PR activities to include webinars, roadshows, press events, participation in consumer fairs and joint promotion events with Airlines.
With France continuing to grow as a key source market for Sri Lanka, the announcement by Air France on including Sri Lanka as a brand-new destination commencing operations in November 2021 with a frequency of three weekly flights and Sri Lankan Airlines announcing direct flights to Paris is positive news for the industry and the destination.
“We have set a strong foundation with an active presence in key source markets, we are now leveraging our strengths to forge better relationships and partnerships in these markets,” noted Ms. Kimarli Fernando – Chairperson SL Tourism. She went on to say, “Effective communication, branding, and positioning in key source markets, such as France, will result in a higher number of arrivals, longer stays, and more expenditure. This is critical for the sector's recovery and is an important revenue stream for the local economy.”
New Product Development & Promotion is one of the Ten Key Pillars which guide the initiatives led by Sri Lanka Tourism providing a comprehensive framework for implementing the government's overall vision. It also facilitates closer cooperation between sectors, including labour, immigration, technology, innovation, and international policy. This new, progressive approach has empowered the local tourism sector, increasing productivity and efficiency while helping fill critical gaps in the sector, making tourism more inclusive and sustainable. The short and long-term initiatives undertaken by the government have proven invaluable in advancing the industry’s overall ambitions as the Island gears itself to be one of the world's most preferred destinations for high-yielding tourists, seeking unique, curated experiences.
Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson, Sri Lanka Tourism
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