Sri Lanka Welcomes Inaugural Southern MICE Expo at Bentota

The Southern MICE EXPO 2024 organized by the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau in association with Sri Lanka Tourism has officially commenced at the Cinnamon Bentota Beach Hotel, aiming to elevate southern Sri Lanka as a premier destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE).

The event highlights Sri Lanka’s stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and modern infrastructure and showcases the country as an ideal location for hosting events, meetings, and conferences

Minister of Tourism, Lands, Sports, and Youth Affairs, Mr Harin Fernando, highlighted the importance of the expo: “The Southern MICE Expo 2024 seeks to be more than just an event; it will serve as a gateway to extraordinary experiences, strengthening local economies and leaving a lasting impression on all participants.”

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, Mr Thisum Jayasuriya, added:  “The Southern Region, with its vibrant culture and breathtaking coastal landscapes, is a prime MICE destination with immense potential to engage a global audience through social media.”

The event began with a Business Forum and welcome reception at the Taj Bentota Resort & Spa on May 27, 2024. The opening ceremony, B2B sessions, and a gala dinner at Cinnamon Bentota Beach on May 28 followed this. The MICE Business Forum offered excellent networking opportunities, with over 100 local vendors in attendance.

The inaugural Southern MICE Expo in Bentota highlights the pristine southern region, renowned for its emerald coast and rich wildlife. Over 115 delegates, including 100 buyers and 15 media representatives from countries such as India, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Singapore, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Qatar, Pakistan, and the UAE, are participating to promote Sri Lanka’s premier tourism circuits.

Mr. Krishantha Fernando, General Manager of the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau, discussed the development of MICE events in the country:

“During COVID-19, we held the first MICE Expo virtually, attracting over 250 buyers and 70 local vendors. The success of the first in-person Sri Lanka MICE Expo in 2023 inspired us to concentrate on regional promotions, including the northern region. The high demand for the southern region’s stunning beaches and abundant wildlife, such as Yala National Park, made organizing the Southern MICE Expo the obvious next step.”

The official program commenced with a business forum at Taj Bentota Beach, featuring speeches from leaders of Sri Lankan tourism organizations, including Chairman Chalaka Gajabahu of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Shirantha Peiris of the Sri Lanka Institute for Tourism and Hotel Management. Jayasuriya emphasized the MICE market’s projected growth to USD 1.99 trillion by 2031.

Gajabahu highlighted the rapid recovery of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry: “We came just 10,000 short of our 2023 target of 1.5 million arrivals. This year, we are on course to exceed our peak of 2.3 million visitors set in 2018.”

With a strong emphasis on India as Sri Lanka’s largest market, the expo attracts more delegates from there.”The Indian outbound MICE market is expected to reach USD 13.4 billion by 2031. This is why we are prioritizing the Indian market,” Gajabahu added.

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau has organized a familiarization tour, enabling buyers to explore the MICE facilities and potential future investments in southern Sri Lanka. The country boasts a variety of event venues, including hotels, resorts, and convention centres.

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