Sri Lanka courts Chinese incentives

THE Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) is ramping up efforts to grow incentive numbers from China, currently its second largest MICE market after neighbouring India.

Peumi Peiris, assistant manager, research, development, trade standards and association meetings at SLCB, said: “(MICE) is a good market as there is easy accessibility to Colombo, with direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.”

Heartened by the “encouraging” responses at its inaugural presence at this year’s China International Travel Mart in Kunming, Peumi said: “We’ve had a number of enquiries for next year, especially for incentives. Some are from leisure travel agents who also handle incentives.”

The Sri Lankan CVB also exhibits at B2B tradeshows in China such as Incentive Travel & Conventions, Meetings China and Beijing International Travel Expo. Last year, it introduced marketing materials in Chinese about the bureau’s offerings.

According to Peumi, Sri Lanka Tourism has plans to appoint marketing representatives in China in the near future.

She added: “The government had also taken steps to encourage Sri Lankans to take up short Mandarin courses and become tourist guides, as one of the challenges we face is the lack of Chinese guides.”

Akhila Goonetilleke, executive at Hayleystours, an inbound tour operator in Sri Lanka, said his company had seen a 20 to 30 per cent year-on-year increase in MICE business from China.

He said: “There is more interest now with more meeting spaces available in Colombo. Our main targets are corporate companies from Beijing and Shanghai.”

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