16 December 2021, Colombo: Pioneering new initiatives, Sri Lanka’s inaugural Virtual MICE Expo received an overwhelming response from stakeholders as the value-added event provided a much-needed impetus for MICE tourism. The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) organized the event from 1st – 3rd December 2021 in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organizers (SLAPCEO). The virtual exhibition showcased over 70 stalls; four business forums for the Meetings/Conference, Exhibitions, Wedding & Incentive organizers; Meet in Sri Lanka video collection; launch of green events initiatives at Water’s Edge; Dilmah virtual tea experience conducted by Dilmah CEO, Dilhan C Fernando; Chef & Restaurateur, Peter Kuruvita; and Dutch Mixologist, Robert Schinkel, and also the Sri Lanka culinary experience by Deshabandu Dr. Pabilis Silva of Mount Lavina Hotel; Virtual Wellness experience by Spa Ceylon and a Master MICE challenge quiz competition. BMICH was the Principal Sponsor of the event along with Waters Edge as Co-Sponsor.
Commenting on the event, Sri Lanka Tourism Chairperson, Kimarli Fernando said: “This is the first time that a MICE related virtual Expo was held with many value-added activities such as business forums, green initiatives, tea experiences, education partnerships, wellness experiences, culinary experiences etc.”
Adding further, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau General Manager, Krishantha Fernando said: “We expected around 200 buyers/visitors for the event and ended up with almost 500 registrations and similarly we expected 50 virtual booths and concluded with over 70, including sponsors, which reflected the positive response to the event.”
Capitalizing on the opportunity to network, some key partnerships were inked during the Expo. An educational partnership agreement related to events was signed between Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers (SLAPCEO) and Uva Wellassa University.
The SLAPCEO President, Imran Hassan said, “This event showcased how best the three main pillars of tourism; policymakers, professionals and academics can work together for the betterment of the industry.”
Speaking at the event, Kimarli Fernando urged SLCB & SLAPCEO to continue this event as a physical event in 2022 with the objective of making ‘Sri Lanka a Gateway to South Asian Meetings & Events Industry’.
Fernando went on to add, “I look forward to collaborating on a solid action plan and MICE strategy for the future. With the onset of the pandemic, we have seen huge shifts in the way people travel for business. MICE tourism has seen changes – with businesses having to learn to operate remotely which has led to many MICE events either being cancelled or postponed. Virtual MICE Expo 2021 provides a much-needed platform for international MICE buyers to meet more than 50+ local exhibitors. The four business forums provideed the expertise and knowledge for to the industry following in our strategy to position Sri Lanka as a top MICE destination in Asia.”
The business forums during the three-day event had high ranking speakers representing international and regional associations such as International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO), International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), International Wedding Planners Association of (IWPA), Society of Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), China SME Business Owners Association, etc.
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