Sri Lanka takes proactive steps to court China’s MICE market

Sri Lanka wants to highlight destinations beyond Colombo; Jaffna Clock Tower pictured

Recognising China as the second-largest market for inbound business events after India, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) is focused on enhancing its offerings to attract more Chinese business events travellers.

Thisum Jayasuriya, chairman of SLCB shared that the bureau organised a MICE Expo in Jaffna in November 2023 to showcase products from the northern province to 50 Chinese and international buyers. Come May 2024, the bureau will organise another B2B MICE Expo in Bentota followed by a fam trip for its key international markets.

Sri Lanka wants to highlight destinations beyond Colombo; Jaffna Clock Tower pictured

“Through these MICE expos, we wish to showcase the southern parts of Sri Lanka such as Bentota and Weligama, Kandy in the central region, and Jaffna in the northern part as new destinations which can hold small- and medium-sized business events of up to 400 delegates. All this time, international business events have been predominantly held in Colombo,” explained Thisum.

This strategy is also being used for the incentive travel market, where SLCB is working to attract luxury corporates from China to move beyond Colombo.

However, air capacity between China and Sri Lanka is a significant challenge, but authorities are actively engaging in discussions with various Chinese airlines to find a solution. Currently, SriLankan Airlines operates four weekly flights to each of the three Chinese destinations: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

Mark Shen, senior passenger sales manager, SriLankan Airlines shared with the Daily that there are plans to introduce direct flights from Chengdu to Colombo next year. Additionally, the airline is actively working on plans to boost flight frequencies from its existing Chinese destinations.

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