Developing Experiential Tourism
The holiday makers who visited Sri Lanka in the 60s and 70 including those who took the famous Scandinavian charters, wanted one thing and that is to lie down on the beach. The beach therefore remained as the predominant attraction in Sri Lanka over rest of the locations and will continue to be so with Kalpitiya and East opening for tourism in the future.
Others argue that Sri Lanka Tourism should not over rely on the Beach when there is a substantial market for rest of the attractions. It is opined Sri Lanka should reckon the Experiential Tourism to be a key factor to compete with the region that is trying out new strategies to retain their market share in the face of global economic set back.
A wide discussion on ‘Experiential Tourism’ gives us much food for thought to increase the market share in the short run towards accomplishing Sri Lanka’s strategic mission of hosting 2.5 million tourists by 2016. The prerequisite of 50,000 hotel rooms by this time requires selection and clearing locations and basic infrastructure development for which the plans are being drawn up and implemented.
Till then, Sri Lanka Tourism could take the full advantage of the current scenario when the country is now viewed as a new destination for those who, ignorant of facts, thought Sri Lanka was at ‘war’. The conducive peaceful environment has given Sri Lanka Tourism the every opportunity for short term gains in a sustainable manner.
Experiences are differentiating themselves from the offering of Product and Services. Products are tangible and Services are intangible. Experiences are memorable and personal hence the need to revisit existing programs and communications against mere itineraries to places. Experiential tourism engages all five senses of the visitors and is the opposite of mass tourism that traditionally focuses on package tours and vacations with low levels of personal involvement. Experiential tourism, on the other hand encourages visitors to actively participate and draws people into the local nature, culture and history. In this sense it is very personal and individual.
It is wrong to presume that Experiential tourism deals only with activity based programs. Even Nature, adventure, Eco, heritage tourism and other niche areas well fit under experiential tourism , provided the visitor achieves expectations through memorable moments.
Visitors invest their personal time and money while the provider gains an understanding of the visitors’ interests and provides what is required to facilitate the opportunity for a memorable experience. The result allows a sense of personal accomplishment for the visitor.