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Five firms bid to handle 5-year tourism global digital blitz

Five parties have submitted bids for three tenders of Sri Lanka Tourism to handle a five-year global promotion on digital platforms in a bid to woo more tourists from next year.

In February, the Tourism Ministry’s Standing Cabinet-appointed Procurement Committee Chairman called for bid proposals from agencies for a ‘Digital Marketing Company for Social Media and Other Forms of Online and Digital Marketing’ as well as for a ‘Campaign Development and Management Unit,’ to facilitate the Global Communication Campaign 2021-2025 of Sri Lanka Tourism on behalf of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB).

The objective of the proposed integrated global marketing blitz is to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and to achieve the national target of the sector.

The tenders were closed on 31 March and the bids are being evaluated by the relevant committees.

“There are three components to be evaluated in this tender — Campaign Management Unit, Creative Agency and Digital and Social Media Marketing. The Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) has made recommendations to the Cabinet-appointed Procurement Committee at present. The proceedings will be finalised within the next couple of months,” SLTPB Managing Director Madubhani Perera told the Daily FT.

She said they would appoint the agency by early September to kick-off the global promotions by January 2022.

The bidders were required to be duly registered as a legal entity, and have an operational office in Sri Lanka with minimum five years of experience in social media and other forms of online and digital marketing.

The firm should also have proven a track record in handling a minimum of three accounts on social media and other forms of online and digital marketing worth over Rs. 50 million (each project) for local or international clients during the past five years. In addition, the company should have had a minimum annual turnover of Rs. 50 million over the past three years.

The ‘Campaign Development and Management Unit’ will serve as the campaign manager to develop and deliver the Global Communication Campaign 2021-2025, in collaboration with Destination Management Companies (DMCs), a creative agency and a digital agency on behalf of SLTPB.

Perera also said the Government hoped to call for 16 international bids by next month, to select eight destination representative companies (DRC) in key sourcing markets and eight public relations (PR) agencies in secondary markets as part of the five-year global promotion campaign.

According to her the eight tenders will be floated for DRC in the UK, Germany, France, India, China, Russia, Australia and Gulf Corporation Countries (GCC), whilst the balance eight tenders will be floated to appoint PR agencies in secondary markets such as Japan, Korea, Spain, Poland, Italy, Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), the US and East European Countries (Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia).

“The paper work for the 16 tenders are being prepared now, with plans to open for bids by next month,” she added.

Effective global promotion has been a long-felt need for the tourism industry as Sri Lanka last had a concerted exercise six years ago.

In February, Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga too appointed a nine-member, high-powered Steering Committee for Strategic Management of Global Promotional Campaign separately. The committee is tasked with ensuring a successful global campaign to promote Sri Lanka Tourism by providing the necessary advice to SLTPB for the planning and monitoring process of the campaign.

Tourist arrivals during the first five months were recorded at 15,294 persons, down by 97%, after the country’s borders were opened on 21 January to resume international tourism.

In May, tourist arrivals were recorded at 1,497 persons with Europe emerging as the largest source market for the month. The figure was despite a 10-day ban on international passengers during May as a result of the rise in COVID-19 cases. In April, there were 4,168 tourists.

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