Word of mouth, a powerful medium to promote the brand - Tourist Board chief | Sunday Observer

Word of mouth, a powerful medium to promote the brand - Tourist Board chief

 Kishu Gomes receives the letter of appointment from Minister of Tourism Development and Christain Religious Affairs John Amaratunga.
Kishu Gomes receives the letter of appointment from Minister of Tourism Development and Christain Religious Affairs John Amaratunga.

Sri Lanka Tourism plans to attract three million visitors this year with a well executed plan and with the support of everyone, this number could even be exceed, the new chief of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) Kishu Gomes told the Business Observer after assuming duties last week.

He said the tourism promotional events planned along with the annual global tourism fora and programs are well underway.

“Wellness, spiritual, sports, MICE, cultural events beyond the Kandy perehera, adventure, wildlife with greater emphasis on the marine sector, authentic cuisines a sector expanding rapidly across the globe and shopping are some of the key areas we need to focus on in driving growth in the industry,’ Gomes said adding that the global potential for tourism is enormous and how much we can tap into will depend on how best we promote our value proposition as a destination.

Sri Lanka recorded around 500,000 visitors in 2009 and the number rose to 2.3 million at the end of 2018 missing the target of 2.5 million by a margin.

“Word of mouth is a powerful medium to promote the brand especially in the tourism sector, hence we have to ensure that every tourist go back with a positive story to share with their families and friends for long-term progress. Repeat business is key in this sector and we have lessons from Singapore and Thailand - two destinations tourist love going back to. Surely our product is much better than Thailand and creating that perception needs more effort,” the SLTDA and SLTPB chief said. SLTDA, according to Gomes, will focus on increasing the numbers across all segments; high end, lower and middle, as we need manage quality and quantity well for the next two to three years and then focus on quality without compromising revenue.

Private sector investments in the industry have been enormous ever since the war ended and they need numbers to sustain their businesses. Every tourist who give us a substantial net revenue will help us broaden our footprint.

A refreshed marketing communication campaign to be executed this year will aim at elevating the position of the brand to expand the top end segment.

There is a concerted effort by the hoteliers and travel trade to promote their service brands to their respective targeted audiences which will complement our efforts.

He said safety and quality of service will be a priority that we will address soon but improving transportation is an ongoing task. With the kandy highway coming up we will bring destinations closer.

“I request every stakeholder of the industry to leave aside all the differences and join hands with the two bodies to work on a common vision and action plan to develop the industry to have a positive impact on the lives of everyone in the country,’ Gomes said, adding that the reason he accepted the invitation to head the two units is to serve better the country in an area that fits in very well with my core background and experience and its economic impact. We have the potential to make tourism the number one revenue generator for Sri Lanka surpassing the current three US$ 3 billion revenue to record around US$ 4.4 billion this year. 

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