Sri Lanka is preparing to host its inaugural virtual MICE Expo from December 1-3, 2021, where the announcement comes soon after the lifting of the islandwide lockdown on October 1.
The three-day event will comprise a virtual expo and interactive webinars to showcase what Sri Lanka can offer for business events, and corporate travellers.
According Malkanthi Welikala, manager-marketing at the state-run Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, the event – promoted by Sri Lankan embassies in targeted tourism markets – has so far attracted 300 buyers from countries like India, China, the UK and Bangladesh. More than 50 business events suppliers have also signed up, and are ready to engage with buyers in a virtual business forum. International and regional associations are also said to be participating.
Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference Exhibition & Event Organizers’ (SLAPCEO) president Imran Hassan, opined that Sri Lanka should focus and promote business events as it is a much safer sector during the pandemic.
“It is more structured, where guests come in groups and are taken around in a group which makes it more manageable during a pandemic as compared to individual tourists,” he elaborated, adding that Dubai and Singapore are also aggressively promoting business events tourism.
Separately, Sri Lanka tourism authorities have received a request from the Travel Agents Association of India to host a group of 500 travel agents for a conference and leisure trip in January 2022.
To which Hassan noted: “It would be a great boost to Sri Lanka if we are allowed to host this event.”
Since early October, the country has slowly returned to normal as restrictions have been eased. At press time, industry officials said they expect at least 450,000 to 500,000 tourists between November 2021 and April 2022.
Tourist arrivals have averaged just 4,213 per month up to September 2021 since the airport reopened in mid-January this year, compared to an average of 42,308 in 2020 (even though the airport was opened only for three months, January to March).