Sri Lanka Tourism begins destination brand recovery process

ON  07 May, 2019

One week on from the deadliest terror attacks perpetrated inthe country since the end of the civil war, Sri Lanka Tourism discusses measures taken to ensure thesafety and security of tourists and outlines strategic plans to rebuild tourismstakeholder confidence to ensure the vital recovery of the tourism industrythat supports one in 10 families in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan’s are among the most warm and nurturing people onearth, when guests arrive on our shore’s they become family’ said Kishu Gomes,Chairman Sri Lanka Tourism. ‘And when family is hurt the entire community comestogether to protect, nurture, mourn and grieve and heal together…this is ourway and it has been our way from the beginning of time.’ He continued‘the promise of Sri Lanka is a promise ofhope, of family, of deep awareness, of tolerance, of diversity, of sincereconnection to humanity and nature and of generosity; we will live the promiseof our motherland and we ask anyone who has ever visited us, relished our food,brewed our teas, cheered our cricket or just marveled at the beauty of a fullmoon to become ambassadors of kindness and compassion everywhere they go. Weare overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and solidarity from peopleeverywhere and look forward to welcoming the world back home to Sri Lanka

Chairman Kishu Gomes explained that It is important to reviewemergency response protocol in the immediate aftermath of the attacks; Sri LankaTourism was focused on organizing our response in emergency care and assistance,providing access to clear and accurate information and working with all nationaland local law enforcement agencies and foreign missions to ensure the safetyand security of tourists.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack’s we rolled out ouremergency response protocol; trained teams were deployed to the affectedhotels, all hospitals and the airport to ensure that all tourists directlyaffected by the attacks received the all the care, attention and assistancethey needed.

Tourists already in country and those scheduledto arrive in the hours and days following the attacks were also an immediatepriority. In addition to the help desks at hotels, airports and touristinformation centers Sri Lanka Tourism set up an emergency hotline to ensure touristsand their loved onesback home had access to accurateinformation and the entiresuite of emergency services;updated information continues to be issued vialocal& global media, social media, and foreign missions on a regular basis.

Addressing security issues is a prerequisitefor the revival of tourism and we continue workingclosely with all relevant authorities to support all foreign nationals in thecountry.Sri Lankan police and Triforces are working tirelessly to ensure the safety and security of all touristscurrently in Sri Lanka. This is absolutely our first priority’ said Gomes

Custodians of a keyindustry

With one in every ten Sri Lankan families depending ontourism for their livelihood both directly and indirectly, Sri Lanka Tourism isfocused on ensuring that the right groundwork is laid to drive an effective andefficient recovery for this critical industry.

We cannot allow ourselves to becomeparalyzed by fear, nearly half a million families across the island depend onus for their daily living; the impact on our economy must be mitigated.We are working to regain theconfidence of global travelers and operators by demonstrating that Sri Lanka’sresponse to the incident is effective while reassuring future tourists that allappropriate steps are being taken by the Sri Lanka Government to prevent anyfuture incidents and ensure the continued safety and security tourists withinthe country’said Gomes

Several high-level cross industry working sessions thatincluded both the public and private sector stakeholders have been conductedwith the objective of outlining the strategic framework of the recoverystrategy accompanied by a phased out action plan with the clear objective ofminimizing the financial impact of cancellations and to maintain and rebuildthe country brand and manage the long term impact of this tragic incident.

A task force is in place and having worked diligently overthe course of the last week we are confident that a clear and actionableprocess is in place, resources allocated and global expertise procured tosupport the industry in its recovery.

Demonstratingresilience

We are grateful and humbled by the resilience and generosityof all the tourists who have chosen to continue with their holiday in Sri Lankaand we are privileged to continue to welcome hundreds of new tourists every daysince the attack. We must ensure wider global tourism communities have renewedconfidencein our destination by persevering and so to this end all planned promotionactivity will continue to ensure that our critical tourism industry isprotected.

Sri Lanka Tourism will continue with its presenceat ArabianTravel Market in Dubai from 28th April to 1st May 2019. TheSri Lanka delegation will begin on day one of the event by observing twominutes silence in honor of the innocent victims and a book of condolence placedat the Sri Lanka pavilion for visitors to sign and write messages of sympathyto the victims and their families. Our purpose throughout this event is veryclear - Sri Lanka will not be beaten by terror. We will take this opportunityto demonstrate to the global media, tour operators, airlines and the world thatSri Lanka is committed to security.

Similarly, Sri Lanka Tourism will address the tourismcommunity at the prestigious 5th UNWTO World Forum on GastronomyTourism in San Sabastian, Spain from 1-2nd of May, where thefocus this year is on job creation andentrepreneurship as a means to advance tourism´s contribution to theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this regard, Sri Lanka Tourism willseek means to create favorable frameworks to stimulate jobs andentrepreneurship along the gastronomy tourism value chain as well as developknowledge on more relevant skills for gastronomy tourism. Sri Lanka Convention Bureauwill also be present at IMEX in Frankfurt from the 21st to the 23rdof May. IMEX is a worldwide Exhibition for Incentive Travel,Meetings and Events, incorporating Meetings made in Germany. The show ispatronized by nearly 160 countries representing national and regional touristoffices, major hotel groups, airlines, destination management companies,service providers, trade associations and more. Over 3962 hosted buyers frommore than 86 world markets visit IMEX. The MICE sector is a major growth driverfor the Sri Lanka market.

The only tourism and travel fair in Sri Lanka, SancharakaUdawa,will be held on 7 and 8 June. This unique exhibition, now in its ninth editionis open to all businesses within the local tourism ecosystem and is organizedby Sri Lanka Association of Tour Operators (SLAITO) in collaboration with theSri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).The main objective of the exhibitionis to create a platform for small and medium service providers in the industryto network and build vital links with tour operators and enter the widertourism industry.

Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureauis exhibiting at Arabian TravelMarket in the Dubai World Trade Centre from Sunday 28th April –Wednesday 1st May on stand number AS2350.

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