New ‘So Sri Lanka’ campaign will go ahead despite political crisis

CITES secretariat working to ‘try and honour’ the arrangement

Sri Lanka’s industry officials yesterday confirmed that the country’s new tourism campaign, So Sri Lanka, will launch as planned after obtaining support from the new government.

The destination marketing campaign was earlier in limbo after the sudden sacking of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe by president Maithripala Sirisena on October 26, which threw the country into a constitutional crisis.

The campaign launch will proceed as planned at WTM London

But now, the So Sri Lanka campaign will be launched as planned on November 5 at WTM London. The campaign will filter into a larger three-year long destination marketing campaign starting in 1Q2019.

This certainty was reached after industry officials met on Tuesday with the new tourism minister Wasantha Senanayake, who reassured officials that the campaign can proceed as planned.

Sri Lanka Tourist Hotels Association’s president Sanath Ukwatte, who was present at the meeting, said they presented the new campaign to Senanayake, who then agreed to its continuation.

“He (minister) gave his okay to the campaign,” Ukwatte said.

Although tourism promotion and marketing campaigns are normally done by the official Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) in consultation with the private sector, SLTPB’s managing director Sutheash Balasubramanian was not present at the meeting.

Balasubramanian, who ends his contractual term today (Thursday), said he won’t be attending the WTM, as positions like these are normally political appointments made by the then minister-in-charge. He however, confirmed that the new minister agreed to proceed with the campaign.

So Sri Lanka has been in the works for the past three to four years, having made to jump through bureaucratic hoops, tender processes, various procedures and changing governments. The industry has been clamouring for a new promotion campaign since the aftermath a 30-year-long ethnic conflict that ended in 2009.

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