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BBC offers free advertising to Sri Lankan tourism despite human rights violations

The British Broadcasting Service (BBC) has reportedly entered a “no-cost” partnership deal with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), which will grant Colombo free advertising to promote the island as a holiday destination.

“As one of the leading media giants in the world, BBC extended its valuable support to Sri Lanka Tourism during this challenging time,” said the SLTPB in a statement released this week.

Sri Lanka was granted 375 spots on 30 second commercials for a period of one month in June, with adverts aired in South Asia, Asia Pacific, Middle East, North America and Europe news feeds of the BBC Network.

“The high visibility destination marketing campaign was a result of the long-standing partnership with the media platform and a testament to Sri Lanka’s proactive guidelines and protocols that have been put in place to provide travellers from across the world a ‘safe and secure’ experience in a post-COVID-19 environment,” the statement added.

“We are geared to promote the paradise island once more as a top travel and tourism destination with a diverse range of attractions from pristine beaches to lush green mountains and an island that offers ‘unmissable experiences’ while ensuring the safety of all travellers,” the SLTPB said.

News of the partnership comes as Sri Lanka’s economy faces a massive crisis, with tourism on the island badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sri Lankan state has continued in its attempts to brand the island as a “paradise” destination, despite on-going reports of human rights violations and a history of massacres. Current Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stands accused of overseeing mass atrocities as part of a large scale military offensive in 2009 that massacred tens of thousands of Tamil civilians. Since returning to office last year, he has stepped up militarisation of the island, with reports of state violence increasing across the Tamil homeland.

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