Sri Lanka Tourism has driven a host of initiatives in recent months, to increase brand recognition and recall for the ‘Sri Lanka’ brand across multiple platforms.
he work undertaken in strengthening the Sri Lanka brand is expected to provide a much-needed boost to Sri Lanka’s tourism sector and re-establish Sri Lanka as the destination of choice for travelers this winter season and beyond.
However, to cement Sri Lanka’s brand standing in top source markets post-COVID, the local tourism industry will need to develop and launch innovative campaigns and packages, that attract high value tourists to the country.
To support this endeavor, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA), in collaboration with the Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility (MDF), invited stakeholders in the tourism industry to a webinar on ‘Business and Consumer Insights for Tourism Reopening in Sri Lanka’.
The event shared findings and analysis from SLTDA-MDF’s latest report, ‘Sri Lanka’s Competitive Brand Standing and Consumer Travel Perceptions to Drive Smart, Sustainable Tourism Recovery’ to support the industry to make informed decisions as Sri Lanka competes in the highly-competitive post-COVID tourism marketplace.
Developed by Twenty31 Consulting Inc., global leaders in tourism data, the report was informed by over 10,000 online surveys and interviews of travel consumers across 10 key outbound travel markets for Sri Lanka – China, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.
Prominent panel, represented by Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority; Hiran Cooray, Jetwing Symphony PLC; Oliver Martin, Partner, twenty 31 Consulting Inc; and Katherine Droga, Founder, Droga & Co spearheaded the discussion.
The discussion focused on how the Sri Lanka destination brand is perceived in the shrunken and competitive post-pandemic travel market, based on consumers’ path to purchase – familiarity, impression, interest, and recommendation. In other words, how familiar consumers are with the brand, current consumer perceptions, interest and intent around travel to Sri Lanka, potential to recommend Sri Lanka as a holiday experience, and demographics of Sri Lanka’s ideal travel consumer.
Overall, the report revealed that the ranking shows a positive trajectory for Sri Lanka, with scope to boost Sri Lanka’s brand perception.
The key findings from the report revealed, that about 70% of high value consumers select a destination solely based on the perception of the brand, and that 44% of travel consumers have a positive impression of Sri Lanka’s travel experience, a key insight for Sri Lanka’s tourism recovery strategy post-COVID.
Across all ten source markets, Sri Lanka’s ideal travel consumers were characterized as immersive and learner travelers with high education and incomes, interested in authentic cultural experiences, enriching knowledge and learning about other cultures and history.
Further, it was found that the emerging post-COVID travel consumers are willing to pay for a higher quality tourism experience and that price slashing is not needed to stimulate travel to Sri Lanka. An overwhelming majority of travel consumers were also willing to pay more for a responsible and sustainable tourism experience.
With a multitude of authentic experiences, cultural offerings and with sustainability at the core of the tourism strategy, Sri Lanka is well-placed to attract these tourists.
Kimarli Fernando, Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority highlighted the importance of these insights and urged the stakeholders to build on these insights to shape experiences that appeal to the consumer.
Kimarli Fernando pointed out, “From the industry stakeholders’ perspective, we really need to know where we have been and where we need to go. And how we can reach the consumer in a positive way to give the impression of Sri Lanka? The digital shift happened even before COVID, and we need to embrace the shift without delay. Also people want to immerse themselves in experiences thus our product and offers need to incorporate this. We are working on aligning Sri Lanka Tourism’s strategy on these global trends and necessities”.
She also noted, “This is a change from the traditional working models which the system was used to thus we are experiencing difficulties. Nevertheless, we are determined to do the right thing, the right way and despite moving slow initially we will definitely ensure we move forward to ensure a strong recovery and growth for the Tourism Industry”.
Interested tourism stakeholders can view the webinar recording and download the full research report from both SLTDA’s website and MDF’s Social Media channels. Further plans are underway to have follow-up consultations with tourism stakeholders on the key findings and recommendations of the report to support the industry cohesively move forward with consistent branding and marketing for the industry.