|If one Googles Sri Lanka|
|Googling in December- 2011|
Last week I was on route on UL 227 to address a Global Forum on Tea that was staged in Dubai. As soon as the aircraft was airborne and was gaining height I could see the contour of Sri Lanka taking shape. My mind went back to the time when I had to travel almost on a weekly routine to Jaffna on military aircrafts to develop the private sector businesses in Jaffna during the height of the final battle. From a 34 companies that were operating in Jaffna in the 1990’s, we were able to harness the real potential of the peninsula where by the end mid 2009 there over one hundred and fifty private sector companies operation either directly or through indirect methods of distribution. But even with all this work amidst a war with one of the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world, if one googled brand Sri Lanka, the reports were not that encouraging.
Googling in March-2009
The googled information that surfaced were the bombings in the Vanni and the alleged civilian casualties, the human shields that were been used by the LTTE, Political instability in the country, the down turn of business in the private sector, the continous fall of the stock market, the ballooning budget deficit that was at double degit and the fear psychosis that was gripping the city that resulted in the low tourist arrival into the country. Things were pretty negative at that time.
Today if one googled Sri Lanka, the data we see on our computer screen is quite different. The ratification of the Free Trade Agreement with Asia Pacific, A bid to host the 2018 common wealth games, Indian star Vivek Oberoi doing a film in Sri Lanka, The stock market ranked as the best in the world, American business delegation discussing business, Weekly conferences by almost all chartered Association attracting the cream of talent like the great Sally Darwie of the British Olympic bid team, over subscribed bond issue of the Central Bank, Many companies wanting to launch IPO’s and to cap it Private sector profits growing by 284% whilst the tourism arrivals booming to an all time high.
Whist these can be the positive reports emanating just like any country in the world be it China, India, Thailand, South Africa, Vietnam or Russia there is bound to be some negative reports. In case of Sri Lanka the googled information pieces are the Army General in prison, agitation by University students, opposition crying out on the emerging dictatorial rule, the fall in trade pacts such as GSP+ due to Human Rights issues. In my view this is what adds colour to brand Sri Lanka even though it can be unpleasant in reality.