Wonder of Asia becomes ‘So Sri Lanka’

By Charindra Chandrasena

After ‘Small Miracle’ and ‘Refreshingly Sri Lanka: Wonder of Asia’, The Sunday Morning Business reliably learns that Sri Lanka’s latest tourism tagline will be ‘So Sri Lanka’, which authorities hope will capture the authenticity of the island’s tourism product.

The tagline was conceived by advertising agency J. Walter Thompson (JWT), which recently won the Rs. 314 million contract to develop Sri Lanka’s brand identity campaign.

It was selected by a three member expert committee chaired by Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando, Hemas Group Leisure Sector Head Abbas Esufally and Leo Burnett Sri Lanka Former Managing Director Ranil de Silva.

The new tagline will be launched at the World Travel Market (WTM) London 2019, along with the unveiling of Sri Lanka’s brand identity and logo to kick off the destination branding campaign.

The present tourism tagline is Wonder of Asia, while a few others such as Small Miracle and A Land Like No Other have been used over the years.

When contacted, the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Chairman Dehan Seneviratne was non-committal about the new tagline.

“There is a tagline which will be launched internationally on 5 November at WTM, and on that day you will know exactly what the tagline is. Officially I can’t comment because we have not revealed that.”

However, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka confirmed that the tagline is indeed ‘So Sri Lanka’ and went on to explain the rationale behind it.

“Yes, it is So Sri Lanka. If something happens we say it’s ‘so Sri Lanka’. So we’re focusing on authenticity.”

He added that it would help differentiate Sri Lanka from other tourism markets as the experiences Sri Lanka offers, for better or worse, are particular to Sri Lanka.

“People are looking for authentic experiences. They are not looking for clinical, Singapore style experiences anymore. ‘So Sri Lanka’, from that perspective, works. You can even use it in a bad situation, when the train gets late we say it’s so Sri Lanka.”

Seneviratne too confirmed that authenticity was among three points in the strategic plan which were focused on when formulating the tagine.

“The tagline we selected is based on a rationale. We have taken the strategic positioning that we have and the strategic plan that we have and it falls into the same focus,” he added.

He went on to say that the brand identity and logo has performance indicators which will be revealed after 5 November.

Although there have been doubts expressed in certain quarters about whether the destination branding campaign would be ready for the WTM, Seneviratne was confident that SLTPB would be able to meet the deadline.

“We are on track to launch it at WTM. We have to do a lot of things but we are confident of doing all that in time.”

The Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday approved the awarding of the $ 2 million contract to develop a new brand identity and strategy for Sri Lanka Tourism to JWT.

“The campaign to launch the brand identity and the logo was awarded to JWT, which is a major exercise. Once that is done we have to come up with an advertising campaign,” Seneviratne said.

Sri Lanka has welcomed a little over 1.7 million tourists in the first nine months of 2018, but the year’s target of 3 million appears increasingly unrealistic with each passing month. Tourism authorities launched an off season campaign recently to convert Sri Lanka into a 365 day tourism destination, which it hopes will help the island achieve its ambitious arrivals and revenue targets.