Sri Lanka Tourism‘s International Travel Blogger & Journalist Program to support SME’s – Adaderana Biz English
The Visiting Travel Blogger and Journalist Program is an annual project that Sri Lanka Tourism runs to diversify and spread the visits of foreign travelers visiting the country and also to generate revenue for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs ) in Sri Lanka. Over time, the consistent pattern of international travelers has been limited to areas such as Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Yala. The visiting blogger and journalist programs, however, aroused interest in making known the lesser-known attractions such as the Jaffna Peninsula, Pidurangala, Wilpattu, River Stone Matale, Seelogama-Belihuloya, Bandarawela, Monaragala, Maligathenna-Gampaha, Ridi Viharaya-Kurunegala, Diyaluma Falls, Kondagala-Kandy and Tangalle in Sri Lanka. In this way, more experience-oriented possibilities and diversity are created and added to the visitor expedition in Sri Lanka.
“So Sri Lanka”, the theme used to give travelers a lasting impression of the authentic life in Sri Lanka; of authentic local cuisine, nature, rich cultural values and lifestyle. Most travelers are now looking for unique experience-based options that Sri Lanka can offer with the support of the fast growing micro, small and medium sized businesses.
International travel journalists and travel bloggers have been identified based on their appealing skills in creating content for travel blogs and popular social media platforms (such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook). The general influence was exerted within their global virtual audience to highlight unexplored places on the map that needed attention for the development of the local and regional economy.
The modern traveler is looking for undiscovered nature reserves, beaches, waterfalls, and hiking trails. On the way to these attractions, ideally they will stop at a small restaurant for a cup of tea, sip royal coconut from a street vendor, or simply enjoy an authentic dining experience on a Sri Lankan home.
Previously, places like Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Passikudah, Badulla, Riverstone, Bandarawela, Wilpattu and Belihuloya and Monaragala hardly saw any tourists who were not previously on the regular guided tourist routes. However, now these locations are part of the campaign to improve their visibility and ensure that these small and medium-sized business areas become a beacon for more travelers.
Ireland-based female travel blogger Janet Newnham, who has an international travel blog site called “Journalist on the Run”, started blogging about Sri Lanka and stated, “I never expected to see some of the most beautiful hotels in the world at this small hotel find .but perfectly formed South Asian nation ”.
As a result, dolphin watching in Kalpitiya, the elephant safari in Minneriya and Wilpattu are becoming increasingly popular. Travel bloggers, journalists, and tourists are now discovering places like Pettah, venturing into the invisible spice markets to purchase spices from local wholesalers, and then expanding their trip to Riverstone, Matale for hiking trails. Tourists now stumble upon waterfalls like Diyaluma, Sera Ella, Bopath Ella, Bambarakanda Ella, and Duwili Ella, stopping off at a homestay in the area.
Another highlighted activity planned to uplift the local community was the “Day with the Locals” held in Selagama, a remote village in Belihuloya and Kilinochchi (north). This program offered the foreigners who could pick up a few Sinhala and Tamil words and connect with the villagers to create a community-based rural tourism experience and engage in the rice farm and cook delicious meals from their farm-fresh gardens. The local communities were engaged and benefited significantly from host family providers, village safaris, boat trips, vendors selling their own crafts and creations, and a grandma who cooked this authentic Sri Lankan food (local culinary demonstrations).
The captured content from these trips was shared and posted on popular travel blogs, online and print publications, and on social media platforms that reached masses of people from different populations around the world. The celebrity makes significant strides in distributing the arrival of travelers and facilitating traffic to well-known landmarks and ensuring that all parts of the country are able to benefit from tourism intrinsically, financially and non-financially.
The continuing impact of the program for travel journalists and bloggers can be seen in the positive feedback received when these social media influencers and bloggers posted their YouTube and Instagram accounts with comments like “I definitely want to visit these places” and “I would love to see beautiful Sri Lanka” which showed that Sri Lanka was positioned in the minds of avid and potential travelers.