Rohantha Athukorale

The Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau (SLTPB) Rohantha Athukorala last week said there is a threat that a banner will be put by Chinese suppliers demanding their dues from Sri Lanka at the Beijing International Tourism Expo 2015 (BITE) exhibition which kicked off yesterday (26). The Chairman made the comment when he addressed the new Ambassador and High Commissioner appointees to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at The Bandaranaike Center for International Studies at BMICH last week.

“Last Saturday we had suppliers banging the Sri Lankan Embassy in Beijing on payments due. We are now trying to reconcile the situation and neutralize it before the world’s Largest Travel a Fair- BITE begins in Beijing next week. There is a threat that a banner will be put by the suppliers who are demanding their dues,” the Chairman said.

BITE 2015 is currently being staged at China National Convention Center (CNCC) and will conclude on Sunday June 28.

Speaking further, Athukorale said the SLTPB that has been dogged with financial misappropriation to the value of 750 million rupees from the earlier regime that cut across through political pressure has however been given a new life by the appointment of 29 top professionals purely on merit under the direction of Minister Navin Dissanayake.

On a question posed on the development of a new market like China by the previous regime, the Chairman acknowledged the good work done but the unpaid bills and poor governance has taken away the shine off the good work.

Athukorala said, “Only once the new ad agency, PR agencies – market wise, Digital Marketing company are selected under the Government procurement process adhered, that we can practice professional destination marketing.” Currently, we are like going for war without the proper armory.

Just attending trade fairs, inviting journalists and initiating travel agents to come to Sri Lanka might generate the numbers but it does not build imagery and brand equity in the targeted travelers. There must be a healthy balance between the Push and Pull,” he said.