Sri Lanka Tourism begins streaming of Couch Safari to take Sri Lanka wildlife to the world

Sri Lanka Tourism began streaming ‘Couch Safari’ from Wednesday as part of a digital push to keep tourists’ interests alive on Sri Lanka’s famous wildlife attractions.

The inaugural streaming featured an evening safari drive at Minneriya National Park on Wednesday and yesterday. On 8 November Kaudulla National Park will be featured whilst on 9 November it will be the morning safari ride with the stunning setting of sunrise of Udawalawa National Park with a repeat on 10 November. On 11 and 12 November, morning safari rides will be streamed from Yala and the event will conclude with the final stream of evening safari ride on 13 November.

Each safari drive will last approximately three hours, narrated by four prominent wildlife experts, Dr. Prithviraj Fernando, Chitral Jayatileka, Srilal Miththapala and Vimukthi Weeratunge.

Sri Lanka Tourism said blessed with an abundance of wildlife, Sri Lanka attracts a significant number of tourists every year visiting the island to experience the exotic creatures living in the stunning natural parks. The diverse wildlife spread across wet, dry and intermediate zones helps maintain the natural balance in ecosystems while contributing to the Sri Lankan economy at large.

Ranked at top five among biodiversity hotspots in the world, Sri Lanka also has the highest rates of biological endemism making it highly popular among wildlife enthusiasts, naturalists, environmentalists and curious travellers.

While it is time for physical distance to avoid the COVID-19 virus it may not necessarily be the time for brand distance. With the current decline in global tourism due to the pandemic, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is looking at innovative marketing strategies to be on top of the mind awareness among potential visitors once the conditions are conducive for them to visit the island. Streaming of personalised wild safari drives from four prominent national parks of the island will let the viewers experience wildlife from the comfort of home. “These are certain steps we have taken to be top of the mind and to avoid out of sight out of mind syndrome in world travel,” said Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando.

“Being an avid wildlife enthusiast, I am very happy that SLTBP is taking the initiative to publicise a series of video clips from the popular wildlife parks of Sri Lanka online. This will showcase Sri Lanka’s rich bio-diversity, and remind foreign visitors that nature and wildlife is still thriving in Sri Lanka, amidst these challenging times. Tourists would be able to view these ‘Couch Safaris’ from their own country even though they cannot visit Sri Lanka at this juncture. I am proud and happy to be associated with this effort which will be of great benefit for Sri Lanka tourism in the future,” said Srilal Mittapala, a wildlife expert who will be joining the safari drives as a commentator.

Minneriya and Kawudulla National Parks witness the most stunning natural phenomenon that takes place in the island this time of the year when close to 300 elephants gather to the reservoir to nibble on fresh grass and play in water. The first two episodes of safari will be capturing the elephant gathering with the hopes of seeing the youngest wild elephant twins in Asia as well. The third destination of the wild safari is Udawalawa National Park which boasts of a number of wildlife including Sri Lanka’s big five, Elephants, Leopards, Water Buffalos, Sloth Bears, Mugger and Water Crocodiles and the final destination of the Couch Safari is the famous Yala National Park, famous for its high concentration of leopards.

In order to penetrate the message to the target audience Sri Lanka Tourism will carry out a campaign prior to the event. Several viral videos will be released to inform potential clients on digital and social media platforms. Streams will be promoted to a selected network globally through print, digital and social media prior to, during and post event highlighting the beauty and significance of Sri Lankan wildlife. The safaris will be streamed on dedicated streaming websites and Apple TV, Roku, Periscope also on Facebook and YouTube channels.

Sri Lanka Tourism said the pre-marketing campaign had drawn a lot of traction. Within the last week, the campaign got approximately 3.5 million post reach on FB, 750,000 video views on FB and YouTube making Sri Lanka visible both locally and internationally.

“This attempt is expected not only to promote Sri Lankan tourism among the international travel communities, but also expected to bring attention to the stunning and rich biodiversity of Sri Lanka and the importance of preserving it,” Sri Lanka Tourism added.