Business Times

One million tourists in two years for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka may welcome as many as one million tourists in two years, a number based on estimates of 650,000 tourists expected this year, which is currently a market equivalent to approximately US$ 450 million, according to top marketer and UNOPS National portfolio Development Manger for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Rohantha Athukorala.

Speaking on the topic of building a national brand at the recent MTI Brand Forum, he said it had also been recently decided that, instead of spending US$ 25 million on promotion, investments should be made for infrastructure rather than promotional activities.

A situation which proved particularly relevant as the country currently has 14,000 rooms, which will not take much to fill, and instead should be focusing on expanding these to 25,000. Mr. Athukorala also briefly touched upon the ongoing and very public discourse regarding the tag line for Sri Lanka's newest tourism campaign by suggesting that currently "one island, thousand treasures" was the choice being debated.

Meanwhile, another presenter at the MTI Brand Forum, HNB Assurance Managing Director, Manjula de Silva, took the opportunity to credit popular Sri Lankan entertainment duo Bhathiya and Santhush with the idea for the fast selling ‘My Life’ insurance policy for youth launched by his company last year. He also indicated that, since the product was launched seven months ago, the promotional campaign, which had cost only Rs. 30 million, had yielded substantial returns including 2767 policies sold in total or roughly 400 a month, Rs. 5.3 million in premiums which was equal to a present value of Rs. 158 million or as much as Rs. 750 million if the current rate of policy sales continue until the end of 2010.

Additionally, because 60% of those signing up for the policy were between 18 and 25 years old, the company would be faced with less claims while the product had already shown a significant drop in the number of policy lapses to date.

The forum also featured a number of panel discussions and presentations by well-known branding experts including Hemas Consumer Brands' Imal Fonseka, Dialog Mobile's Hasrath Munasinghe, Finlays' Romesh Moraes and JWT's Thayalan Bartlett amongst others.

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