Sri Lanka Tourism’s global digital campaign to begin – Finally

More than a year after it was first announced, Sri Lanka will finally award contracts to three foreign agencies to kick-start the global digital advertising campaign for tourism, beginning in Western Europe.

The Cabinet of Ministers on Tuesday approved the proposal presented by the Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga to award the contracts to three agencies in UK, Germany and France following the tender evaluation process.

The three campaigns have a combined budget of US$ 2 million, or Rs. 338 million, and are scheduled to run for 6 months during the period travelers in Western Europe traditionally research and book their end-of-year and spring holidays.

This is the first phase of the long awaited digital tourism promotional campaign, with the second phase aimed at Sri Lanka’s biggest tourism source markets, India and China.

The US$ 703,480 UK campaign has been awarded to Digital Spring (Ltd), a UK based digital advertising specialist who has carried out tourism campaigns for countries such as Scotland, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia.

The US$ 697,770 German campaign will be handled by Media Consulta, which has conducted tourism campaigns for India and Mongolia and is Germany’s largest independent PR and advertising agency.

Interface Tourism Institute, which has managed digital campaigns to promote tourism for Abu Dhabi, Mauritius, Jordan and Portugal, has been awarded the US$ 706,460 campaign in France.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for Phase 1 was posted in January 2018 by a special committee appointed late last year by the now disbanded Cabinet Committee on Economic Management (CCEM) chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The committee, tasked with fast-tracking the tourism digital marketing campaign, included Secretary to the Tourism Development Ministry Esala Weerakoon, former SLTPB Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, National Agency for the Public Private Partnerships Chairman Thilan Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka, top businessman Dhammika Perera and Dilmah founder Merrill J. Fernando.

According to tourism statistics, UK, Germany and France occupied the 3rd, 4th and 5th positions respectively on Sri Lanka’s source markets list last year, while contributing the highest value tourists in terms of average spend per day and average stay duration. In 2017, Sri Lanka welcomed 201,879 tourists from UK, 130,227 from Germany and 97,282 from France, which contributed heavily to the island recording 2.1 million tourist arrivals in the year.

The awarding of the digital campaigns comes while the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is carrying out multi-platform promotional campaigns focused on key international markets including Europe, Middle East, China, India, Asia Pacific and USA.

SLTPB recently also launched a three-month global advertising campaign on news giant CNN to “depict Sri Lanka’s identity to the world as a tourism hot spot”. However, the tourism industry has been divided over the effectiveness and value addition of this US$ 650,000 (Rs 104 million) deal, pointing out that CNN is an American network which is not an ideal tool to attract viewers from Germany, France, the UK, India and China.

For the first seven months of 2018, Sri Lanka has attracted over 1.38 million tourists, up 13.7% year on year, with the government having set an arrivals target of three million tourists for the year. (CC)