I.I.F.A. awards will create the credibility and believability factor,” Dileep Mudadeniya tells Benchmark.
“The challenge (to deliver) is much greater than before. We actually anticipated and made preparations for this mini boom. I feel that it’s important when you are running an organisation to anticipate and work on scenario planning so that you have your structure, systems and strategy in place. We have been working on this for some time and we do have a good team in place, together with the necessary political leadership. So I’m quite confident that we can deliver results without much difficulty,” Dileep Mudadeniya told Benchmark Special Correspondent Ms. Savithri Rodrigo recently, while elaborating on his role as Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau head.
Expanding on the strategy adopted by the authority in promoting the country as a destination, Mudadeniya confirmed that plans were being formulated prior to the war end in preparation for the upswing that has now, thankfully happened.
“In big-picture terms we were preparing and looking at how we could be ready for a time of peace. As we had already formulated plans, we were ready for it. When I say we were ready, it was in terms of a communication strategy. i.e. the message and the key differentiator; which was critical,” Mudadeniya said.
He added: “Tourism exists in about 130 countries and each country has something to say. What was important was identifying a key motivator for travellers to come to Sri Lanka, and differentiating our product strategically. We identified this differentiation through a series of discussions over more than four years, involving the industry, stakeholders and ministries. We then decided on how to communicate this message. So we adopted a creative strategy which has provided results over the last couple of years.”
Underscoring the need to be cost conscious, Mudadeniya reasoned that thecommunication strategies adopted are optimised to create the mostimpact, while stressing that promotion is the responsibility of all stakeholders.
“The business of tourism is not the exclusive purview of the promotion bureau or institutions under the Tourism Ministry. It’s also the responsibility of every person in the country; travel agents, tour operators, hotels, etc. These are multiple communication channels that we are going to use.
We must first ensure that there is substance in the country. The dawn of peace saw an influx of tourists. Similarly, the events of substance and credible communication will automatically be picked up by the media. We have opted for cost-effective communicationmethods. Being a small country we must not spend millions on marketing.
So based on our budgets, we have come up with effective communication
tools where we reach the target audience who can, and want to travel,” he said.
Among recent successes, Mudadeniya alluded to the benefits of the I.I.F.A.
awards held in Colombo as being the beginning of many such positives in the future.
“There was a concerted effort by those involved in ensuring that this event came to Sri Lanka. I.I.F.A. awards will bring about the credibility and believability factor because of the brand acceptance it creates.
This also provides the required media exposure: viewership is estimated at 600 million for the 13-hour programme that is being broadcast over various channels. Thirdly, the number of journalists-some 300, who will attend the event from all parts of the world will provide print, electronic and Internet coverage. Finally, India has more than 300 million upmarket travellers. So this market has the potential to grow. And we hope to increase numbers by 100% by 2012. This translates to the creation of over 10,000 jobs,” he added. The widely watched business TV programme is presented by LMD and produced by the wrap factory.
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