Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Tourism – It is still the same as 12 years ago!

I was heavily involved in the World Travel Mart in November 2004 before my return to Sri Lanka for good. I had been continuously involved as the supplier of complimentary tea to the delegates and guests for many years as I was living in London then.

I was shocked, more like appalled that nothing seems to have changed in this period as far as the Sri Lanka Pavilion is concerned. Apart from differences in what is highlighted, when I saw the photos and we are still using the same style of Kandyan Dancing, I was wondering was this taken 12 years ago?

Just click on the link and imagine whether it could have been different. Trust me it has NOT changed for at least 15 years! I might even say it was better then! I have the photos, but need to put them into digital format to allow the reader a chance to compater and contrast.

In reality even the dancing styles have changed lately and I was involved in a Culture show this week at a Hall  in Kadawatha, that the wealth and depth of our traditions, as well as the versatility of our amateurs in our area, with very little training and innate natural ability, was immense and that is what our visitors to this country should see. What a difference here and what a shame of the same in London?

Where have we gone wrong? I think it is called Government! Our Public Servants who are involved in making the arrangement use the same o same o people to do the same things and DO NOT venture out of the norm, as they are NOT hoteliers and they are not the people who earn a living from Tourism.

It is time the Private Sector took over the whole issue of marketing tourism, as they know what is on offer, and how to attract people in 2016, when faced with choice from all over the world and decisions are taken on line and little by way of tour groups, except for the traditional ones.

Actually WTM should be more focused on high end tourist products ONLY, and so we build a niche and get the agents of the tour companies to visit Sri Lanka for their block bookings at knockdown rates. Marketing Sri Lanka as merely a high end unique destination at WTM where we have to compete with all the world, it is better to distinguish Sri Lanka from the others.

Remember back then the little booklet of hotels was only about 100 and the number of Tourists were about 400,000. Now it is six times that ON EACH SCORE and our Organizers are still living in a world that has NOT changed. What a tragedy for the industry to be saddled with dead horses, when the foals in waiting are rearing to go, and no one has even given them a showing internationally.


Anonymous said...

What do you expect, when you have the same Paddy Withana as the Tourism Promotion Bureau Chief now and 12 years ago he was the Chairman of the Tourist Board, effectively the same job!

That is a clear indication of how sick the system is. In a time when the likes of etc take out Rs15B per year in commissions in foreign currency, with no competing organization set up by the local Tourism Bureau, to compete with it, we are stuck in the last century.

Anonymous said...

WTM is for the old school types, stuck in history.

The new breed of small hotel owner, does not even bother to register with the tourism bureau. They build the place, do the web site, and do targeted ads on FB directing them straight to their web site and booking, by passing the whole system.

The are able to charge US$400 a day, and have their rooms at 90% occupancy throughout the year, and with the good reviews continue to grow their product, by adding either a new location or a new wing.

All this on the QT with few of the established hoteliers knowing even of their existence.

Some of Sri Lanka's best hotels are known overseas but never heard of by locals! Amazing.

They don't want nor do they get any help from the establishment, and prefer it that way.