Northern Tourism Stakeholders are getting ready to say hello again for tourism in the new normal

Global outbreak of Covid-19 massively affected travel and tourism industry continuously for a year. Northern Tourism identified the timely requirement of re-building the tourism businesses with a NEW HOPE in the NEW NORMAL. Accordingly, Northern Tourism in collaboration with EFECS Project invited interested tourism stakeholders to join with the upcoming destination marketing programme starting from Domestic Tourism and expand up to International.

Workshop on Tour Package Development suites for the new normal was conducted by Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Institute on 20th, 21st and 26th January 2021 in Green Grass Hotel, Jaffna, Julie Reception, Mannar and Princes Rose Hotel, Vavuniya, respectively. 56 Hoteliers those who are interested in developing their hotels for future tourism attended this programme.

Participants are registering for the programme following the pandemic guidelines….

The programme was initiated with a clear introduction to tourism product and the tour packages. The audience was trained on how to define the business objectives suitable for the existing business problem. There, using the knowledge on community activities and services that can be positively promoted during the pandemic period for the benefit of the business was explained.

Programme provided a comprehensive knowledge on how to develop a tour itinerary for the hotel as well as on how to assess the willingness of tourism operators to partners in terms of promoting the package. Finally, the programme delivered the proper knowledge on pricing suitable for the market competition and the seasonal priorities.

Resource person explaining the tourism channels….

Canadian Tourism and Hospitality Institute which is a well-established tourism education institute in Jaffna conducted this programme by the invitation of Chairman, Northern Province Tourism Bureau under the facilitation of EFECS Project.

Certified Trainer, Mr. S. Karthigan addressing the audience….

Mr. Sriskantharajah Karthigan, Director of CTHI and Professional Trainer in tourism and hospitality management conducted the programme. He was one of the business coaches of Master class for Guesthouse Improvement Project Trincomalee (S4IG) and also a resource person for Sustainable Tourism, Training, Awareness and Networking Program (STTANP) in Ampara, Batticaloa and Mannar Districts.

He is currently contributing for the Northern Provincial Council in order to conduct Tourism and Hotel Training Courses and Workshops as a Resource Person and Visiting Lecturer for Crisis Management and Recovery Measures for Tourism SMEs.

He has conducted several training programs and workshops related to hospitality and tourism for Government and non-government organisation including Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, World Bank, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority etc. He has diligently worked with World University Service of Canada, Australian Aid, GTZ and International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The programme was able to provide a proper solution for the hotelier’s issue; how to create themed packages that boost profits and drive sales as a post pandemic strategy to boost tourism? Both formal & informal sector SME Hotels in Northern Province took-part for this programme. 

Market Development Officer (Northern Province), Mr. V. Sinthujan translated the session into Sinhala for those who do not understand the tamil language.

Participants are developing individual hotel packages….

Resource Person convenience the audience to come up with the best package…..

Leisure travellers want more than just a place to stay. They want to dine out, visit local attractions, and attend events. Therefore, each hotel has to come up with an attractive itinerary for the guests with their valuable service.

“This training will be able to resolve series of issues that might affect the SMEs in the long run. The lack of awareness about a strategy to boost sales after the pandemic as well as the poor knowledge on the method of attracting customers after the pandemic time or during off seasons were identified in Northern Province Tourism Stakeholders” said Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (EFECS Project) addressing the audience in Jaffna programme.

She further elaborated that the poor connectivity with travel agents due to the nonexistence of an attractive package or digital presence was observed during her research in North. Absence of idea on how to develop an attractive travel package and lack of knowledge on the exact positioning of the Accommodation Unit have created lots of issues for the promotion of these hotels. Since their poor knowledge on the target market and the prospective traveller have become the reason for the absence of effective strategies suitable for new normal she further explained.

” Ultimately, the absence of a proper pricing strategy and discounting offers for the hotel was an issue to be resolved in order to connect them with the travel agents and prospective customers” explained Ms. Harshi Abeynayake Value Chain Officer (Tourism) answering the questions raised by the stakeholders in Jaffna.

The training programme assisted the SMEs to develop their own attractive package to be promoted for the travellers post pandemic. The programme enabled them to develop an attractive package that can be promoted through the Digital Mediums.

“We received a better understanding on the seasonality in business and the travel durations for the packages as well as the best pricing and discounting strategies for the product and best methods to promote the package” commented by a hotelier participated for the programme.

Finally, the programme delivered positive outcomes through a changed attitude as well as an enhanced knowledge. The participants were given a proper understanding about the importance of the existence of an attractive offer for the hotels to boost sales after the pandemic, slow seasons. The proper knowledge on the ways of tying up with travel agents’ promotions as well as the irresistible offers for the traveller where they cannot reject were provided.

The audience understood the importance of promoting the hotel based on the unique amenities and the scale of the hotel such as Luxury, Eco Friendly, Budget. Better understanding on the proper target market for the hotel and also the importance of connecting with the right players in the tourism value chain to promote the brand was revealed.

Hotels and Restaurants in Micro, Small and Medium category in Northern Province willing to be a part of the Destination Marketing Programme participated for this training.

“We have nearly over 200 Hotels in North. As a strategy to re-start we wish to connect you all with growth-oriented travel agents those who promote Sri Lankan packages overseas for long years. I hope this would be one of the ideal strategies to divert traffic to north as a post pandemic strategy to boost tourism” expressed Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Chairman of Northern Tourism Bureau delivering the vote of thanks at Mannar District Programme.

He further elaborated that a microsite is under development to boost 25 Social Media platforms of identified travel agents. Although obtaining the tour packages from the respective hotels in North is a prime requirement to feed the real north microsite at the point of enquiries, it was realised that certain gaps in knowledge are there in developing a tour package for the hotel.

All the hoteliers participated for the programme were given the opportunity to join with the Two-Days Digital Marketing Programme to obtain the know-how on how to promote the hotel packages using the best digital marketing strategies in the new normal.

Mr. V. Sinthujan and Mr. K. Hershanth, Market Development Officers for EFECS Project as well as Mr. Anujan, Northern Province Coordinator for Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs in Tourism assisted this programme with the support of Northern Province Tourism Bureau.