As Sri Lanka returns to normalcy after the tragic events on Easter Sunday that interrupted a decade of peace and prosperity in the island, Sri Lanka Tourism is illustrating what Sri Lankans are best at – moving forward.
With authorities’ strategic operations carried out to contain the situation and the arrest of those responsible Sri Lanka is rapidly recovering and the industry is readying itself for what was to have been a record mid-season in what would have been a record year of growth for the tourism industry.
“Tourism is a strategically critical sector in Sri Lanka’s ever-expanding economy. It’s now the third highest revenue generator for the country and it is estimated that 500,000 individuals depend on it. From the fishermen to the farmer to the tuk-tuk driver to the king coconut seller on the roadside, they all benefit from the tourism industry. On the flip side, thousands of people are directly employed in the hospitality sector.
Therefore, many Sri Lankans from various walks of life are stakeholders of the tourism industry. We have seen darker days but have always bounced back, better and stronger. Our resilience as a nation is unrivalled. This is our strength and we will show the world that Sri Lanka will once again be the top destination to visit,” explains a confident Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, Hon. John Amaratunga (below).
Ensuring security and safety for everyone in Sri Lanka has been the single focus of the government of Sri Lanka. In the immediate wake of the attack, the full force of Sri Lanka’s highly experienced Triforces were deployed across the island and it is confirmed that all the suspects of this small but deadly cell have been identified and apprehended proving again that the advanced capabilities of our military power must never be underestimated.
This was an important message and Sri Lanka Tourism was committed to ensuring that the entire Tourism community both at home and across the world were able to hear it. To this end, a joint industry press conference was organized on the 6th of May and a full security update was provided by a military spokesperson along with updates by Kishu Gomes chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism and the presidents of the key industry bodies THASL and SLAITO.
The Sri Lanka Tourism chairman led the panel and briefed the different stakeholders on the following;
- Sri Lanka Tourism’s Emergency response protocol deployment
- Information access & dissemination
- New safety and security procedures that focus on training people, defining procedure and installing advanced security equipment
- Crisis management process & procurement of services
- Destination recovery acceleration through focussed and strategic marketing
- Aggressive promotion strategies
- Discussions on concessions and relief packages for the industry
Ensuring convenience and comfort amidst new security procedures
The Airport has been a primary focus in the government’s efforts to ensure complete control of the security of the island and we are grateful to Sri Lankans and visitors alike for understanding that these unprecedented incidents have resulted in some inconveniences at the airport especially with respect to pick up and drop off.
Furthermore, Sri Lanka Tourism is working with the Air Force and Airport authorities to minimize the inconvenience caused by these improved security procedures. In order to provide a more user-friendly and efficient experience during arrivals, the coach park at the Bandaranayke International Airport (BIA) is now open to permit holders, with 24hr prior confirmation to airport authorities.
Global expertise and strategic recovery plans
Sri Lanka Tourism is focused on laying the right groundwork for rapid recovery and is working with a team of senior international experts in destination reputation management & crisis recovery, this team have successfully worked to mitigate risk for Egypt Tourism, Lufthansa Germanwings among other famous brands. The phased out strategic plan includes 1) Channel management & rapid rebuttal 2) Scenario mapping & planning 3) Customized recovery strategies for key source markets based on global consumer research
“We have already taken all possible steps to demonstrate that Sri Lanka’s response to the incident is effective and credible. We are now aggressively planning to reassure the world of our levels of preparedness and setting the groundwork for future reputational recovery work by reassuring tourists that all appropriate steps are being taken by the Sri Lankan Government to prevent any future incidents and ensure the continued safety of tourists within the country.
As we do this we are developing a holistic reputation recovery plan based on data and research for each of the key markets, this will be followed by an intensive global marketing campaign to further accelerate the recovery process”, said Gomes.