The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), currently attached to Sri Lanka Tourism, has plans to conduct a number of international events in Colombo but would not get involved in local programmes.
SLCB Senior Manager Achini Dandunage speaking with the Business Times said that currently the sector “looks fruitful” and that they have a number of events lined up with most taking place in the second half of this year.
However, although they did not have this many conferences previously, she noted that they would not be participating in certain local events due to changes internally.
Under the proposed new Tourism Act, the SLCB is to be scrapped as a stand-alone agency and would be part of the general tourism structure, an issue that has raised concerns from the industry as it would impact on the promotion of MICE tourism. The industry says a separate agency is a must to promote MICE as this is a growing sector in the leisure sector with a higher spend per individual than the regular traveller.
The official said since the bureau is unable to recruit more employees they would not be engaged in events locally but would concentrate on attracting international conferences and events.
In this respect, Meetings Incentives Conferences and Exhibition (MICE) tourism generates increased revenue with most visitors spending on average at least US$300 per day.
The SLCB has attracted about seven events for this year namely the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in September with about 800 participants; the Asia Pacific Conference in March; the Asia Pacific Consortium on Public Health with 600 participants; the Asia Pacific Pediatrician Conference with 1600 delegates; and the Abacus International Conference in October with 500 participants.
Other events scheduled are the 4th Foot-Wear 7 Leather Fair 2012 in February; Architect 2012 Members Work and Trade Exhibition; International Exhibition on Air Freight, Shipping and Logistics in March; Southern Asia Ports Logistics and Shipping Exhibition and conference in April, and Senses and Soul Colombo Music Festival in August.
The bureau would also be engaged in carrying out promotion for the upcoming ICC T20 scheduled from September 10 to October 10.
Another MICE event would be the training programme scheduled for this year in June with the aim of training local personnel with guest speakers.
Ms. Dandunage observed that most of these visitors arriving as delegates were unlikely to stay for long after the conference to tour the country but return with their families on holiday later.