France is a key strategic market for Sri Lanka and we constantly urge the industry ensure value for money packages are given to the French market and further assure that all Frenceh tourists are given professional attention and receptive to make their stay much pleasant in Sri Lanka,” said Minister of Tourism and Christian Religious Affairs John Ameratunga at the IFTM Top Resa 2018 travel fair held in Paris, France recently.
Speaking at the official stand opening, the Minister mentioned the significance of the French market to Sri Lanka’s travel trade as a key European market which is growing on a year on year basis and also highlighted the government decision to grant VAT refunds for purchases made by the tourists during their stay, for which many French tour operators and the industry experts applauded with great interest. The VAT refund will be granted at the BIA at the time of the departure through specially established counter.
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) along with a contingent of 30 travel trade representatives and a delegation led by Minister of Tourism John Amaratunga, made their presence felt at the 40th landmark anniversary edition of the IFTM TOP RESA 2018 travel fair .
The Sri Lanka delegation included the Ambassador of Sri Lanka in France Mr. Buddhi Athauda, Monitoring MP Tourism Mr. Harshana Rajakaruna, Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) Mr. Suthaesh Balasubramaniumm and Assistant Director – French market SLTPB Ms. Sarnagi Thilakasena and other representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and the Embassy of France. The official stand opening ceremony was held at the Sri Lanka stand no. M010 under the auspices of the.Minister of Tourism, Sri Lanka delegation , tourism officials, media and special invitees.
The expo is being held for the 40th consecutive year of which Sri Lanka has taken part in 38 occasions. The magnificent Sri Lankan pavilion vividly depicted the many a facets of the destination which are key attractions to the tourists. The pavilion theme was to showcase Sri Lanka a destination of natural wonders and highlighting various tourism attractions the county has to offer. Sri Lankan cultural dance performances by Sri Desi dance troupe added much colour to the overall country presentation at the fair. Sri Lanka pavilion also welcomed the Sri Lankan Air Lines counter, Tea Counter and Gem & Jewellery counters apart from travel trade representations this year.
Mr. Buddhi Athauda addressing the gathering mentioned that Sri Lanka was a country of varied facets and a destination beyond comparison to any other country in the world. The Embassy is fully geared to meet the inquiries and requests made by travel trade in France and working towards achieving the goals in French Market. Sri Lanka is all set to cross the 100,000 French arrivals this year with the support of the travel agents and tour operators in both countries.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Tourism made it the opportunity to recognize achievements key tourism stakeholders during the IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair. Mr. Chandra Wickramasinghe – founder of Connaissance de Ceylan, who is one of the senior travel trade professionals who has immensely contributed to the trade was recognized for his contribution of 35 years to develop the French market for Sri Lanka. A token of appreciation and a memorabilia was handed over to him by the Hon Minister of tourism and Monitoring MP in appreciating his long-standing efforts in the French Market. Receiving the accolade, Mr. Wickramasinghe highlighted that it is a lifetime achievement and a great honor to be recognized for his contribution in the French market and certainly feels proud to hold this achievement for Sri Lanka.
Being in the 40th landmark year of IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair, Sri Lanka Tourism presented a memento to CEO of Reed Expositions France Mr. Federic Lorin to mark the 40th anniversary celebration and to recognize the cooperation extended by the Reed Expo, the official travel fair organizer to destination Sri Lanka promotions at the IFTM Travel Fair.
SriLankan delegation participated in further business meetings, exclusive media interviews, air-line meetings during the travel fair to expand Sri Lanka’s presence.
Sri Lanka Tourism maximized the exposure at the IFTM Travel Fair being featured at IFTM Daily Official Travel fair Magazine, IFTM Official Catalogue and advertising on outdoor panels of the fair grounds to enhance the destination presence. One full page interview of the Honorable Minister was featured on the Day 01 edition of IFTM Daily Magazine highlighting the new developments and Sri Lanka’s potential in French Market. The official magazine carried full page advertisements of Sri Lanka on all 03 days including the official show catalogue. Sri Lankan advertisements were posted on the outdoor panels on the fair grounds ensuring highest visibility for destination attractions.
Launch of the Digital Marketing Campaign for France
The world renown travel trade expo IFTM top Resa and aims to exceed 100,000 arrivals from France this year heavily supported by a fully-fledged digital media campaign. The official agreement between Sri Lanka Tourism and Interface Tourism France was signed during IFTM Travel Fair to mark the commencement of 06-month digital media campaign in the French market. Mr. Sutheash Balasubramanium , Managing Director of Sri Lanka Tourism and Mr. Blaise Borezee , Managing Director of Interface Tourism –France signed the contract on behalf of the two organizations. The digital campaign will be implemented in full thrust in the French market in the next 06 months covering key travel segments and targeted audience in order to generate high level of destination engagement among the potential online based travel decision makers. The digital campaign was one of the most sought after marketing tools to be launched in France being on par with modern day marketing strategy followed by other competitive destinations. The campaign will boost Sri Lanka’s visibility in digital platforms in France which is seen as a massive contribution for destination promotions. Many Sri Lankan Travel trade experts endorsed the move as being timely .
Meanwhile Key initiatives on the sidelines of the IFTM TOP Resa implemented by SLTPB included International press conference increase the destination awareness among french media. The high profile event was attended by more than 120 guests representing leading media, travel evangelists, influences, bloggers etc from leading media houses, magazines, newspapers, radio channels, TV channels in France.
The delegation also took time to respond to questions raised by the media at the end of the event on various topics. The leading media journalists participating at the event included Le Figaro, L’echo Touristique, Madame Figaro, Hotel & Lodge, Monaco Madame, Paris Match, Elle, Vogue, Le Monde, Le Parisienne.
Overall, Sri Lanka Tourism gained momentum at the 40th Edition of IFTM TOP RESA Travel Fair, unveiling a fully-fledged marketing strategy for French market and endorsing the events with high level of destination branding and visibility. IFTM travel fair and allied events generated many opportunities for promoting Sri Lanka among French travellers. At a juncture where the country is targeting to attract more than 2.5 million visitors in total before the end of the year 2018 , a greater contribution is expected from Western European countries including France due to high revenue and high value generated by tourists arriving from Western Europe.