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John to go to Cabinet again to fast-track tourism PR, marketing global campaign

Tourism Minister John Amaratunga is to go to Cabinet once again to formalise and fast-track the much-delayed public relations (PR) and global promotion campaigns to boost the country’s image post-Easter Sunday terror attacks.

The move is after the selected agency JWT requiring proper formalisation of contract though the Cabinet had previously approved same.“There are some formalities that we have to comply. There are one or two more Cabinet papers that have to be submitted to have a procurement committee, which has not been done. I have now told the Ministry team to immediately prepare the Cabinet paper and I will sign and within the next two, three weeks we must get that also approved,” Amaratunga told the Daily FT yesterday.

The Minister noted JWT was keen to have the contract formalised and get full Cabinet approval to avoid any future audit queries.

“Though JWT assumes we haven’t followed the appropriate procedures, I said when we have the Cabinet approval, why do you want all that? However JWT has made a request for proper and full Cabinet approval,” he added.

Certain sections within the advertising industry have raised concerns over the Government’s decision to award the twin contract with an envisaged spend of nearly Rs. 1 billion to JWT, which is not a qualified PR agency. JWT was originally selected for the $ 2 million branding exercise ‘So Sri Lanka’. The concern is without a competitive and transparent process, the Government was awarding extended businesses to JWT.

The PR exercise worth Rs. 415 million is envisaged to last two months and the global marketing exercise costing Rs. 500 million is to span six months.

The target markets for the global promotional campaign include Sri Lanka’s biggest tourism source markets such as India, China and the UK, Germany and France.

The delay in the roll out of the two campaigns has irked the tourism industry which is struggling after the extremist terror attacks on three five-star hotels and an equal number of churches on Easter Sunday killed 250 people including 45 tourists and injured several hundreds.

Previously Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau said campaigns were to be kicked off in mid-July.

(FT)

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