Sri Lanka Tourism and Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) is to spend Rs.1.5 billion to partner with an internationally recognized advertising agency and multiple Public Relations firms in a fresh move to promote Sri Lanka as a viable tourist destination, a senior official attached to SLTPB said last week. According to Chairman, SLTPB, Rohantha Athukorala, the SLTPB, which has already allocated Rs.1 billion to partner with the advertising agency while another Rs.500 million had been set aside for PR firms, will invite applications from institutions worldwide during the next two weeks.

“Every country has a PR firm in other countries to promote them as tourist destination. Sri Lanka has not had a single agency for the last six years,” Athukorala said.

The money to be used for these purposes will be utilized from the Tourism Development Levy and the Embarkation Levy. A senior official in the bureau said that Sri Lanka had stopped using the services of PR agencies after the war and had used the respective missions to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination.

However, the official stated that the need for PR agencies had once again arisen as the volume of promotional activities in the future would be increased. Accordingly, the processes are at the initial stages and would be complete by this year.

Meanwhile, tourism experts and tourist hotel operators in Sri Lanka too have welcomed the move of the SLTPB to partner with international PR agencies stating that it was a necessity at this juncture.

President of Tourist Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL), Hiran Cooray speaking to The Nation Gain stated that the SLTPB was heading in the right direction in terms of going for international PR agencies. “We need such partnerships to compete with the rest of the world. Today, almost every country has PR agencies in other parts of the world, something which Sri Lanka has not had for the past several years. We need them to attract the tourists if we are to compete with the world market,” Cooray added.