SriLankan Airlines’ efforts to rebuild the country’s tourism recognised at APEX awards


SriLankan Airlines’ intensive efforts to drive the recovery of the island’s tourism industry in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attack were honoured with a global accolade – the ‘Best Marketing Innovation’ award from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). The airline also managed to secure Four-Star rating in the major airlines category, for the 3rd consecutive year.

Vipula Gunatilleka, Group Chief Executive Officer said, “We are delighted to win this prestigious award, which we consider being an accolade for our country at a time when our tourism industry is recovering from a disastrous situation. Credit goes to the hundreds of members of our staff who volunteered for this innovative marketing campaign that reached an audience of millions of people in a large number of countries.”

SriLankan’s marketing effort was chosen as the winner over entries by Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic that were also shortlisted nominees in this category. APEX ( is the world’s only non-profit membership trade association, a network of the airline industry’s leading airlines, airline suppliers and related companies that are dedicated to improving the entire airline passenger experience. The awards ceremony coincided with the APEX Expo annual industry convention at the Los Angeles Convention Centre from September 9-12. Joshua Bustos, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer, received the award on behalf of SriLankan at a glittering ceremony in Los Angeles on 9th September.

Saminda Perera, Senior Manager Marketing said, “We are delighted to receive this award for our marketing campaign ‘Spirit of Vesak at BIA’ which was well-received by the participants, visitors and viewers all alike. As the National Carrier of a country that has rich traditions, our aim was to symbolise in our campaign, the cultural aspects of a national festival which portrays unity among communities, teamwork and of course the sense of generosity which has connotations to the doctrine of the Buddha. We have always endeavoured to ensure the timeliness and universal appeal of our marketing campaigns and this award reaffirms the success of our efforts.”

The campaign, which centred on the Buddhist festival of Vesak to showcase the unity and spirit of tolerance among Sri Lanka’s many ethnic and religious communities, reached an audience of 7.6 million people with 1.2 million engagements via live streaming over YouTube and Facebook that specifically targeted major tourism markets worldwide.

The campaign involved a range of events at SriLankan’s hub at Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport that emphasised the message of peace through spiritual songs, intricate decorations, offering refreshments catered by none other than the airline’s catering arm – SriLankan Catering to travellers at the airport, thanking people for visiting Sri Lanka and much more. A special choir of airline employees ranging from pilots to cabin crew, aircraft engineers, administrative staff, auditors and aircraft interior cleaning crews were trained by some of the country’s top musicians to entertain travellers.