05.Punartha Perera Session 05

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The International Conference on Hospitality & Tourism Management - 2013 Colombo, Sri Lanka 28 th - 29 th October Hosted by: Conference partners: BENELUX IN SRI LANKA TOURISM- THE PERSPECTIVE FOR THE FUTURE, LEARNING FROM THE PAST Mr. Punartha Perera Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

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2 AYUBOWAN!!! [May you live longer]

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BE NE LUX IN SRI LANKA TOURISM- THE PERSPECTIVE FOR THE FUTURE, LEARNING FROM THE PAST Mr. Punartha Perera Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka 29 Oct 2013

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INTRODUCTION BENELUX includes the first two letters of Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg These are three developed Countries which are lying in Western Europe The size of all three countries are merely 74,640 square km , which is just more than the size of Sri Lanka or the size of Panama. The Netherlands is reckoned as one of the 20 richest countries in the world. Belgium is strategically located in the middle of Europe’s economy and capital Brussels is also the administrative capital of Europe. Luxembourg is the richest country in the world , in terms of GDP Per capita per person ( USD 115,000) in 2012, 3 times average of the EU. 5


RESEARCH QUESTIONS & OBJECTIVES The central theme of the research was to seek the importance of the Benelux region for Sri Lanka tourism in the present as well as for the future. Analyzing the arrivals from the region to Sri Lanka (SL) during the post war era in Sri Lanka (2010 onwards) Viewing the current hotel price changes in SL , in the eyes of the tour organizers, to sell the destination and their views on the future hotel prices. Highlighting the local Destination Management Company (DMC) competitiveness in the region. Evaluate whether the SLTPB ( Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau) efforts to promote tourism in the region is sufficient enough to achieve her long term goals. Suggest proposals for the SL policy makers to increase the tourist influx from the Benelux, to achieve the proposed policy measures by 2016. 6


LITERATURE REVIEW Sri Lanka is recognized as the world’s best country to travel in 2013 by the world renowned travel guide Lonely Planet. Tourism Branding requires a context where the audience applauds the fact for what your country can offer visitors (Cromwell, 2013) It is not suitable for Sri Lanka to use the same policies for tourist promotions that were used during the war according to Silva. (in Ganewatte, 2012) Hewawasam states (in Ganewatte, 2012) that Sri Lanka was branded under three names over the past 10 years, before and after the war. If the country is changing the brand name regularly, this would not help the tour organizers to recognize the importance of selling the destination . SL Ministry of Finance and Planning annual report 2011 states “The current tourism strategy is to attract tourists from India, China, Middle East, East Europe and Russia in addition to the traditional markets in Western Europe” which is further strengthened by the hotelier Lokuhetti (in Ganewatte, 2012) DMC’s have to identify the markets and promote the relevant destination and provide information to potential travelers on it. (Pathirana, 1999: 6). 7


METHODOLOGY & DATA COLLECTION The research was mainly done using the primary data obtained from the tour organizers in the Benelux region. The method of collection of the data was through a questionnaire consisting of twenty one qualitative questions, which was collected in the Benelux region. The primary data was collected out of 20 tour organizers in the Benelux region (Sample population). In total, there are around 80 tour organizers in Benelux, where the sample group was around 25%. Out of the 20 in the sample population, 12 were chosen out of the Netherlands, 6 from Belgium and 2 organizers from Luxembourg. In addition to the primary questionnaire, secondary sources and two discussions were done with two of the diplomats in the SL missions in Belgium and Luxembourg on their ideas on tourism promotion. The period under consideration was from 16 Aug-15 Sep 2013 for the questionnaire to be sent ,be completed and returned back to the researcher. 8


FINDINGS & DATA PRESENTATION 9 Figure 1-Perfomance of tour organizers in Benelux to Sri Lanka during 2010-2012 1.KEY ISSUES IN ARRIVALS TO SL FROM BENELUX IN POST WAR ERA

Figure 2-Benelux Arrivals to Sri Lanka 2010-2012:

Figure 2-Benelux Arrivals to Sri Lanka 2010-2012 10


2. VIEWING THE CURRENT SRI LANKAN HOTEL PRICE CHANGE ON THE REGION’S TOUR ORGANIZER 11 Figure 3- Current position of selling SL in Benelux ,with regards to SL hotel prices

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12 Figure 4- Proposals on Sri Lankan hotel prices, to gain more future Benelux tourists

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13 Figure 5- Competitiveness of the local DMC’s in the Benelux 3. SRI LANKAN DMC COMPETETIVENSS IN BENELUX

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14 Figure 6-Satisfaction shown by tour organizers for SL government’s effort for tourism promotion in Benelux 4.SUFFICIENCY OF THE EFFORTS OF SLTPB IN TOURISM PROMOTIONS IN BENELUX

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15 Figure 07- View of Benelux tour organizers on Sri Lanka government’s long term goal


MAIN CONCLUSIONS The performance of the tour organizers selling Sri Lanka through tourists in the post war era, and the Sri Lanka government statistics , does not go in line with each other. This suggests that the government of Sri Lanka might have manipulated the Benelux arrival figures to the public. Sri Lanka is still a sellable destination for the tour organizers in the Benelux, but their request is for the prices of the hotels to remain the same in order to gain more tourists in the long run. Netherlands is significantly dominated by the local DMC’s which does not give an incentive for new DMC to enter the country while Belgium and Luxembourg are relatively untapped markets with low DMC competition where it would be conducive for a new local DMC to enter. Overall, the Benelux region tour organizers are receiving less government support in promoting Sri Lanka even though it might vary slightly country wise. Sri Lanka government’s long term aim of bringing 2.5 million tourists by the end of 2016 is not possible according to most of the ideas of the tour organizers. 16


RECOMMENDATIONS Even though some of the countries in Europe are in recession ( ex: PIGS countries), the Benelux is not under austerity. the Sri Lankan government should think as the Benelux region being a high spending and an important tourist market for the country. This would be the most important recommendation. In Europe, SLTPB is currently having a tourism promotional office in UK only. Since Benelux region is an important tourist generating area, it is important that a tourism office is initiated in the region, or at least responsible tourism officers. Through the horizontal airline agreement which signed in Brussels in 2011, Sri Lankan Airlines is recommended to fly to at least to Brussels or Amsterdam directly. Getting involved in the regional television and radio campaigns with prominent personalities, from SL, will be an incentive for more incoming tourists. Through airlines such as Turkish airlines and Emirates, who are regular fliers to the region through Colombo, more familiarization trips should be organized to SL in connection with private DMC’s and Benelux tour organizers. 17 1. TO THE SLTPB AND SRI LANKA TOURISM OFFICIALS

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The Netherlands is a heavily impacted market by the local DMC’s. Therefore further indulgence by the private sector is not recommended. Belgium and Luxembourg are relatively new markets where there is opportunity for the local DMC’s to enter the market to work with tour organizers in these countries. 18 2. TO THE LOCAL DMC’s

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