Sri Lanka showcased their latest destination branding at the World Travel Market (WTM), to reinforce their tourism recovery and set themselves apart from competitors. The new destination campaign, encapsulated by the tagline ‘You’ll Come Back For More,’ is directed at the 33% of individuals who are repeat visitors to Sri Lanka. The campaign assures tourists that their visit will leave a lasting impression, compelling them to return. The Sri Lanka Promotion Bureau announced its intentions to officially launch the global campaign in February or March 2024, to attract five million tourists by 2030. The Hon.Harin Fernando, the Minister of Tourism and Lands of the Government of Sri Lanka, further disclosed that Adventure Tourism would play a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s strategy, with an influencer campaign already planned in addition to attracting new hotel brands, increasing fam trips, improving connectivity and strategic partnerships.
Despite starting the year with ongoing economic difficulties, Sri Lanka reached one million arrivals in September. It is anticipated that the country will reach 1.5 million tourists by the end of the year, up from 719,000 in 2022, and compared to Sri Lanka’s best year in 2018 when 2.3 million travellers visited. Sri Lanka announced a substantial comeback following the aftermath of Covid-19 and the country’s economic crisis. For 2024, Harin Fernando announced that they aim to reach 2.5 million visitors, and for 2030 Sri Lanka’s final goal is to reach four million tourists.
“The Ministry and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s paramount focus is to create a robust country brand through a comprehensive rebranding exercise, highlighting Sri Lanka’s unique assets. To achieve this, we will prioritise the key source markets through year-round digital and PR campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the
UK” commented the Hon. Minister of Tourism, Harin Fernando “Ongoing promotions will introduce new initiatives to maintain a competitive edge for the destination” he added.
The Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Chalaka Gajabahu, shared that they are currently attracting interest from major hotel groups. Exciting developments such as the ITC Colombo One Hotel and Residences, as well as the Hilton Yala Resort are underway. Sri Lanka is aiming to establish a high-end category of hotels in addition to catering for their smaller bookings.
During 2023, Sri Lanka hosted three familiarisation (fam) trips for UK agents. Harin Fernando announced plans to expand this initiative, stating that Sri Lanka will organise six trips next year, in addition to those arranged by private companies. Fernando expressed the expectation of welcoming at least 200 agents on fam trips in the coming year. The goal is to provide them with cultural experiences and showcase everything Sri Lanka has to offer, attracting new visitors as well as those who choose to frequently visit Sri Lanka.
Increased connectivity is integral to raising visitation numbers. Sri Lankan Airlines is preparing to expand its routes to connect more UK cities, facilitating convenient travel. This is alongside strategic partnerships with Emirates, Qatar Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Turkish Airlines. To further boost visitor numbers, Harin Fernando is in talks with TUI and British Airways, aiming to persuade them to add charter flights to Sri Lanka and provide alternatives to direct flights from the UK offered by Sri Lankan Airlines.
The destination’s position as a top travel choice has been further solidified by collaborations and partnerships with travel associations such as ITAA and ABTA in 2023. The country also maintains its relationship with ANTOR. All of these enhance ties with media outlets and the UK travel trade.