USAID gives $3m for Sri Lanka tourism

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 May 2005, 12:42 GMT]
US Agency for International AID & Development (USAID) announced a US$ 3 million funding to attract more tourists to visit Sri Lanka as part of its overall post-tsunami recovery initiative, the Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.

The money would be used to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination “in key traditional markets in Europe such as UK, Germany, France and the second biggest source India,” the paper said.

The exercise would be a combination of media advertising, promotions and other market initiatives and will be mainly targeted for the forthcoming summer season, it added.

The funds secured by Tourism Cluster, which has been in existence since 2000, will be used in coordination with the Sri Lanka Tourist Board and SriLankan Airlines.

"We are keen to help people get back their livelihood and the US$ 3 million funding for tourism is part of that initiative," USAID Head Ms. Carol Becker was quoted as saying.

Noting that the USAID funded program was a collaboration between the Government and the private sector industry, Ms. Becker urged the media also to play its part to revive tourism in Sri Lanka.

The Competitiveness Program Chief of Party John Varley said that tsunami resulted in large-scale cancellation of bookings in Sri Lanka and it was important to lure back tourists.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka Tourist Board Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara was quoted as saying that following the tsunami, the marketing budget for 2005 has been almost doubled to US$ 8 million from about US$ 4 million.

The Board hopes to spend around US$ 4.3 million on global media advertising, especially on TV. In the past Sri Lanka tourism hasn't focused on media advertising.

"With the USAID initiative the overall country spend on marketing will enhance considerably," Mr. Nanayakkara said.

Mr. Nanayakkara expressed confidence that the target of 600,000 tourists for 2005 could be achieved though the yield might be lower. In 2004, the average spend by a tourist was US$ 74 per night and pre-tsunami plan was to increase it to $ 84 in 2005.

Only 7 Sri Lankan hotels (with 468 rooms) of the 48 affected by tsunami are permanently closed due to structural damages.

“Around 31 hotels are back in operation while another 10 are under-going refurbishment under the duty free scheme from the Government,” Mr. Nanayakkara said.


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