Sri Lanka builds to lure business visitors

Mar 25, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is building more convention centres amid fears of a shortage of accommodation following a flood of tourists with the end of its war and temporary closure of a big conference hall. Tourist industry officials said they are promoting MICE tourism, as travel abroad for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions is known, catering to the high-end business traveller.

Hosting international conferences and exhibitions draws not only delegates who help fill up hotels but other tourists as well as word about the island’s attractions spreads.

“Sri Lanka is not new to MICE tourism,” said Vipula Wanigasekara, general manager of the Convention Bureau, which organises events. “We have a long history to way back in 1976.”

That was when Sri Lanka hosted the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought in 83 leaders of Third World countries and around 600 foreign delegates.

Last year, the island hosted several international conferences and exhibitions on trade and information technology despite the surge in fighting between Tamil Tigers and government forces.

The Tigers were defeated in May, ending the 30-year ethnic conflict that had retarded economic growth a