Sri Lanka was able to create a positive impact on its Japanese counterparts about its uniqueness as a travel destination, by participating at the JATA Tourism Expo 2019 held in Osaka, Japan, 24th – 27th of October 2019. The Tourism Expo in Japan is one of the biggest trade and consumer oriented travel fair. JATA Congress attracted 1052 delegates while JATA Tourism Expo attracted over 210,000 visitors and 152 countries and regions during the fair in 2018. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau has been participating at JATA Travel Fair for the last 20 years to promote Sri Lanka tourism products among Japanese travelers.
Sri Lanka Tourism has always participated in the event with the main goal of promoting and introducing Sri Lanka’s cultural and historical attractions to the Japanese market and creating a platform to build business partnerships with their Japanese counterparts. Sri Lanka was represented by travel agents and hoteliers who have been promoting Sri Lanka in the Japanese market for so many years. The Sri Lanka delegation for this year’s fair included Mr. Kalpa Gunasinghe , Junior Manager , Japan Market , Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) , Ms. Thanuja Muniweera ,Assistant Director , SLTPB and Mr. Ushan Ediriweera, Industry representative from Sri Lanka. 12 Industry participants joined the Sri Lanka Delegation at this mega event. The Sri Lanka pavilion was opened under the patronage of the Honorary Consular in Osaka Dr. Kyo Ito, Minister Commercial Mr. Samantha Wijesekara representing the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo, Japan, and Chairperson of Sri Lanka Business Council, Mr. Saman Priyankara.
The items which drew the attention of the visitors were the tea counter, roulette board, the selfie corner and the VR experience, where Japanese visitors were able to get an exclusive opportunity of getting a life like experience of whale watching and the scenic beauty of Sri Lanka. The Japanese visitors were impressed to explore the amazing holiday and travel opportunities that Sri Lanka had to offer and its scenic beauty, the cultural and natural wonders. The traditional dance performances held at the Sri Lanka pavilion brought much fascination to the Japanese visitors, and to see their cultural glamour. The tea counter provided them with the best of Ceylon Tea, freshly brewed and had a tantalizing aroma. This year, the exhibition saw a large crowd of over hundred and fifty thousand visitors in all 4 days, even more than the fair which was held in Tokyo last year. This was the first time in which the event was held in Osaka, since traditionally it has been held in Tokyo since its inception.
Business to Business (B2B) meetings were also held at the Sri Lanka Pavilion (B2B) where the members of the Sri Lankan delegation was able to discuss and exchange trade ideas with their Japanese counterparts. This year, SLTPB reserved an area of one twenty-six square meters for the Sri Lanka pavilion. The SLTPB officials were able to meet government organizations such as Japan Airlines, Japan Association of Travel Agents, Japan International Co-Operation Agency, advertising & PR companies including Sakura International Inc , Dentsu Inc , Japan Footage Inc , Travel agents & Tour Operators such as Euro travel services, Red Apple travel ,Orange Inc , and Tokyu Agency Inc .
The selfie corner and the VR Experience were general favorites among the crowd and prizes were handed over to the winners of the selfie competition, where they were encouraged to take a picture and were awarded prizes for the best photo.
By using social media platforms along with the VR experience, together with a Physical 3D selfie backdrop and Sri Lanka branded name tags, SLTPB was able to showcase its progress updated with the latest technology and attract the visitors towards the Sri Lanka pavilion.
Up to September this year, tourist arrivals from Japan were recorded as 39,304, which showed a change of 42.3% compared to the same period last year.