WITH MICE visitors spending three to four times more than the average leisure traveller, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) is eager to boost the popularity of the country as a MICE destination through increasing the number of convention centres.
SLCB general manager Vipula Wanigasekara said 80,000 MICE travellers, some 12 per cent of arrivals into Sri Lanka, brought revenues of US$50 million last year, while 85,000 are expected this year. Much of this traffic comes from India, with over 250 events in Colombo hosted by Indian companies since 2007.
Although Sri Lanka has just a few convention centres that can accommodate over 2,000 delegates, new facilities were underway in Colombo, Negombo on the west coast, Jaffna in the north and Hambantota in the south, added Wanigasekera.
The biggest facility being planned is a 200-acre (over 80 hectares) multi-purpose complex at Peliyagoda, near Colombo, built along the lines of Sentosa Island in Singapore or the Hyderabad Convention Centre. It will have a convention centre, a 200-room hotel and cinema halls.
Meanwhile, the Hambantota Convention Centre is due for completion by August, while a 100-acre site is being scouted for a facility in the northern city of Jaffna.