Sri Lanka eyes conference travellers, India is a key market: official

Sep 22, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka plans to attract more business visitors through promoting the country as a destination for conferences and business meetings, an official said.

“We are no longer in a numbers game,” Vipula Wanigasekera, chief executive of Sri Lanka Convention Bureau said at a forum held Monday.

“Future tourist has been identified as a green and informative person. So we are on the path to ensure that we are capable of catering to the needs of that emerging market. At the same time the role of the convention bureau is to attract more business visitors who will bring more value into the country.”

He said India is going to be a dictator in the business tourism generating market where it alone produces 1.1 million visitors who travel simply for meetings.

“People simply go out of India just to have meetings,” Wanigasekera said.

“That is one of the target markets that we are looking at.”

Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 18.7 percent to 166,610 in August 2015 from a year earlier, driven by China and India, data from the state tourism promotion office showed.

In the eight months of 2015 arrivals were up 17.1 percent to 1,172,465.

Indian arrivals increased 27.9 percent to 151,427 while China visitors were up 76.8 percent to 81,682 for the eight months in 2015 compared to the corresponding months 2014.

Wanigasekera said Sri Lanka also plans to generate tourists through the association meetings market.

Conference business has reached a new high with 68 International conferences recording in the year 2014 up from 28 in 2012.

“And this year we are expecting that number to go up about 75,” Wanigasekera said.

“Conference delegates are high spenders and they spend three times more than a leisure traveler. So that is another target market that we are working on,”

“Through this we are planning to bring not only value but benefits to all the stake holders in the sector.”