Sri Lanka begins a fresh push to woo tourists promoting MICE tourism
Sri Lanka began a fresh push to woo tourists by promoting MICE and hub tourism in the island nation to attract more travellers from Europe, Asia and the Pacific.
Tourism Minister Harin Fernando yesterday said the industry has managed to rebound with earnings nearing $ 1.6 billion along with the boost in arrivals in 2023.
“During the first 10 months of the year, earnings have totalled $ 1.59 billion. It is a 56% year-on-year (YoY) growth compared to the same period in 2022. October earnings stood at $ 136.70 million,” he added .
“We are confident that by the end of the year, tourism earnings will reach $ 2.5 billion,” he added.
His prediction of new resurgence in tourism cones at a time where Sri Lanka began another fresh push to attract tourists with a grand participation at the World Travel Market in London which kicked off yesterday.
Here Tourism Minister Harin Fernando, UK Duchess of Rutland Emma Manners, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Saroja Sirisena, and industry veteran Chandra Wickramasinghe cut the ribbon at the WTM Sri Lanka stand in London.
This year’s show saw over 75 Sri Lankan companies, hotels, and tour operators participating. The WTM concludes on Thursday
Meanwhile the Ministry of Tourism will take over the idling Hambantota Convention Centre and convert it to a major active conference and event hosting venue.
A hotel school too would be set up to accommodate around 400 students in this convention centre which will be a major feeder of youth for the growing human resources crisis in the hospitality sector.
Minister Fernando said that this would be the epicentre of the proposed Yala Tourism Hub program which will be initiated soon under a directive of President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Minister said that under the program upmarket hotels too would be invited to build hotels in the Deep South area moving up to the Embilipitiya area.
The convention project started in 2006 with Korean aid with an objective of ‘promoting balanced and comprehensive regional development through this Centre in Hambantota’ and has direct access to the southern expressway between Colombo and the other regions.
It also hosted the CHOGM youth conference. The Centre has a seating capacity of over 1,500, a banquet hall , adequate parking for nearly 1,000 vehicles, grand lobby and reception area, dining facilities, majestic kitchen, cafeteria and business and administration centre.