The panellists of the forum, from left: SLAPCEO Board Member Dr. Shafaath Amidon, SriLankan Airlines Head of Worldwide Sales Dimuthu Tennakoon, SLCB General Manager Krishantha Fernando, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, BMICH CEO Sunil Dissanayake, Cinnamon Life VP Marketing Dileep Mudadeniya and Colombo Port City Sales and Marketing Yamuna Jayaratne
The Chairpersons’ Forum on MICE Tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions & Events) was successfully held on 9 March in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition & Event Organisers (SLAPCEO).
The main focus of this forum was to create awareness and educate the industry on how best we can cater to the MICE industry requirements worldwide with the premium infrastructure we have and seek the support of the private sector to promote MICE tourism via the bio-bubble.
In light of the enormous potential and opportunity to be a MICE host country, presentations were done by SriLankan Airlines, BMICH, Colombo Port City Project and Cinnamon Life to industry stakeholders, overseas missions in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan missions abroad. The forum also looked at building relationships to attract new technology to develop the industry which will also be a new avenue to attract foreign investment.
“Sri Lanka’s aim is not to compete with countries like Dubai and Singapore, however, to create a niche market where the offering of Sri Lanka is more of a distinct product in terms of location where individuals can visit Sri Lanka for a conference and then go on a safari in Yala, go whale watching and visit a tea plantation, all in a day if domestic flights are used to travel around the country,” Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson Kimarli Fernando shared.
She further stated that Sri Lanka is currently working with the Indian government for a travel bubble agreement to host destination weddings in Sri Lanka.
International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) CEO Senthil Gopinath, the first Sri Lankan CEO of ICCA who joined via Zoom, stated that MICE has faced a lot of challenges in 2020 and the future trends of the MICE industry will have health safety and security on the priority list. Furthermore, he mentioned that artificial intelligence and digital innovation is another vital requirement to secure MICE business apart from face to face networking.
Post pandemic, the regulations of the visit will remain as per the new normal, travelling in the bio bubble. However, Sri Lanka Tourism is now working with the health authorities to recognize vaccinated travellers, who are encouraged to take PCR tests upon arrival and then continue to join the community with strict regulations in place.
French Ambassador to Sri Lanka Eric Lavertu, Italian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Rita Manella, UAE Charge d’Affairs Al Tamimi and Indian High Commission First Secretary Irina Thakur were among the distinguished invitees apart from the MICE industry stakeholders. The venue was sponsored by BMICH and the event was managed by BConnected Ltd.