Posts Tagged ‘MICE’

An eventful year for SriLankan MICE

  • SriLankan Airlines becomes the official carrier of more than 70 major events

At a time when Sri Lanka is progressively becoming a much sought-after destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conferences and Exhibitions) events, SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier of Sri Lanka and the newest member of oneworld alliance, has become the official carrier of more than 70 MICE events this year. Participants of these prestigious events were offered special discounted air fares, thereby encouraging them to seek Sri Lanka as a venue for future events.

Among the line-up of events in the MICE calendar of SriLankan Airlines, ‘Futurex International Glass Expo-2014’, to be held in October is expected to attract many participants from the world over. Having received 868 overseas participants, with the biggest contingent from India numbering to 640, this year’s event is expected see an increase of participants. SriLankan Airlines Regional Manager Sri Lanka and the Maldives Saminda Perera said, “Sri Lanka is strategically positioned between the two regions where the highest tourism growth is projected, and at a time when the country is experiencing a massive development drive and many investors seeking business opportunities, Sri Lanka’s potential as a MICE destination has certainly improved. We see a gradual growth of tourist arrivals in the country and as the national carrier; we will exploit every opportunity to the best of our advantage to attract more high-end tourists and corporate travellers.”

SriLankan Airlines in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau is implementing a long-term plan to uplift Sri Lanka’s profile as a MICE destination in order to achieve the ultimate goal of becoming a premier tourist hub in the Indian Ocean in the near future. On its way to achieving this target, the second international airport in Sri Lanka, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (MRIA) was opened last year in the southern coastal town of Hambantota. With many international hotel chains such as Shangri-La and Sheraton planning to make their presence in the island and the flurry of development activities taking place in the region, SriLankan MICE offers a wide variety of products and services to choose from. From idyllic settings amidst salubrious central hills and beachside meeting places overlooking the mesmerising Indian Ocean to trendy cosmopolitan conference locations and convention centres, Sri Lanka is a place that has a setting for any kind of an event.

SriLankan Airlines, MICE Promotions Manager Chantal Samarasinghe said, “SriLankan Airlines has been involved in many MICE tourism activities, through which, we have been able to attract many corporate travellers from Asian, Middle Eastern, European and Far Eastern markets. With our entry into the oneworld alliance, SriLankan is looking for greater expansion opportunities and as the national carrier, we view this as a vital opportunity to promote Sri Lanka as a destination for business travel with fully-fledged meeting places, luxury accommodation and a wide variety of excursions.”

SriLankan Airlines is the official carrier of the second Sri Lanka Intervention Meeting that was held in April, organised by the Sri Lanka Heart Association. This was the official event that focused on the subject of Interventional Cardiology held with over 200 international delegates in attendance. It included lectures, panel discussions, symposiums, audio-visual presentation of cases, workshops and live case demonstrations.
In addition, INTRAD/AROGYA EXPO 2014 held in May this year, received over 275 overseas visitors and the 12th Congress of the South Asian Academy of Ophthalmology to be held in October this year, is expected to attract more than 400 overseas participants.
SriLankan Airlines was also the official carrier of the Commonwealth Business Forum last year.



Galle Face Hotel opens US$ 20 m MICE Centre

Sales Director Mubarak Gaffoor, GM Tony Fleming and Catering and Conventions Director Thakshila Galappaththy. Picture by Roshan Pitipana

In a bid to entice more Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) related tourism into the country, the Galle Face Hotel launched its state-of-the-art Meetings and Conference Centre investing US$ 20 million. The centre comprises of seven boardrooms that will cater to meetings and conferences that would range from small to medium events.

The hotel had commenced an overall restoration project mid last year. Galle Face Hotel, Group General Manager, Tony Fleming said around the time the restoration project commenced, the hotel experienced haggard conditions and we knew it was time to restore the hotel to its former glory. “The completion of the Meetings and Conference Centre was the first stage of this restoration and it is pleasing for us to know that the Galle Face Hotel is set to establish a foothold in the MICE market in Sri Lanka. All guest rooms will be refurbished; there will be an increase to the size of the lobby and bar areas will be enlarged as well.”

“The MICE market in Sri Lanka is showing signs of progress and this initiative will provide active promotion for the country. Galle Face Hotel is ready to host leisure and business incentive conferences . The Hotel is located in the hub of the business capital and is in proximity to the central business district. Another advantage is the ability for those who attend events here to network and socialize in the many pubs, restaurants and nightclubs that are located in the locality,” Galle Face Hotel, Sales Director, Mubarak Gaffoor said.

The Meetings and Conference Centre, located in the North Wing, can hold 500 attendees. The opening of the conference centre and its unique features cater to provide tailor-made solution for guests. Modern facilities will be provided for the guests; from e-boards, stationary, sound systems and multimedia to a cafe.

“A dedicated meeting concierge is also appointed to provide a personalized service for the guests,” Galle Face Hotel, Director Catering and Conventions, Thakshila Galappaththy said.


MIM Magazine places Sri Lanka high

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Under the title ‘Sri Lanka is Blossoming,’ MIM Magazine, which is the most popular and prestigious  Meetings and Incentive Magazine in Europe, in its latest issue  has given a detailed account of the development in the country which has immensely contributed to the increased tourism and MICE tourism activities in Sri Lanka. The story starts with the caption ‘Visitors to Colombo immediately notice that the capital is getting ready for major projects. The city is clean. If you travel further south, you will see major, new developments, a new airport, a new high way, new hotels, and a new congress centre.’ Sri Lanka Convention Bureau GM Vipula Wanigasekera says that the Editor of MIM Magazine Marcel Vissers was in Sri Lanka recently and he had the opportunity of seeing the country for himself.

The article describes the facelift given to Colombo, new tourism properties coming up, refurbished BMICH and the elegance of Nelum Pokuna, as well as the development in the south including the airport and Convention Centre in Hambantota, etc. Being a reputed magazine among corporates in Europe, this would give a tremendous boost to the image of Sri Lanka for MICE tourism, said Wanigasekera.


Water’s Edge to build Rs 2b star hotel to tap MICE market

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The management of Water’s Edge, the Urban Development Authority will begin building a five star hotel this year. The hotel will consist of 250 rooms and 16 suites thus making the venue a one stop shop for Meeting Incentive Conference and Exhibitions (MICE). The UDA has also decided to call for both local and international tenders to build this hotel.

The UDA is expected to short list the application and the construction is to commence mid this year. The project is estimated to cost over Rs. 2 billion according to sources and it will provide 450 direct employment opportunities.

“With Sri Lankan tourism booming and more international events being hosted in Sri Lanka we expect our property to be considered a venue to host future MICE events,” said General Manager of Water’s Edge, Rohan Fernandopulle.

The Water’s Edge also boasts of a sea plane landing facility, a pontoon to cater to 40 guests, many specialty restaurants and a large garden area for dining and hosting parties and weddings and many other facilities which helps the property to be marketed as a high end resort.

The hotel is also having plans to expand their car park and is looking to introduce a ‘drive through’ food counter and a mini restaurant outside the main building.

Fernandopulle who is also the Culinary Adviser to both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and UDA, said that the Water’s Edge was completely refurbished to host some of the CHOGM events with additional facilities being added.


Sri Lanka targets MICE

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With an objective of welcoming two million international travellers by 2016, the convention and exhibition sector wants to seize its chance to turn Sri Lanka into a new exciting destination for MICE BANGKOK (Traveldailynews): Sri Lanka is slowly emerging as a desirable destination for world travellers, following the return of peace in the last decade. Growing popularity is observed through high growth rates of international travellers: last year, Sri Lanka received 1.274 million international visitors, a number up by 26.7% over 2012. Europe is Sri Lanka largest source market with 547,000 arrivals in 2013 followed by Asia with close to 510,000 tourists.

India remains Sri Lanka’s largest inbound travel market with 209,000 travellers followed by the UK with 137,000 arrivals, Germany with 85,000 arrivals, the Maldives with 79,000 arrivals and France with 64,000 arrivals. Over the next years to come, Asia is likely to gain market shares, particularly with a strong growth from China (up by 96% last year to 54,000 arrivals) as well as rising interest from the Middle East and from Russia. At this tempo, Sri Lanka is likely to hit a target of two million international visitors by 2016. With the local industry now looking at hitting slightly over two million tourists target by 2016 – an earlier target set up in 2010 to reach 2.5 million travellers is unlikely to be achieved now. As expected foreign exchange earnings could then reach US$ 2.5 billion, developing high revenue-generating travel segments is more important than ever.

Authorities are consequently looking at targeting the MICE industry. The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau which is under the Ministry of Economic Development. The mission of the SLCB is to position Sri Lanka internationally as a value for money destination for MICE activities and to receive optimum revenue from MICE tourism in order to make a positive contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy in creating employment thereby uplifting the living standards of those engaged directly and indirectly in the ‘Meetings Industry’ in Sri Lanka. Last year, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau General Manager Vipula Wanigasekera highlighted at the ‘SriLankan Holidays and SriLankan MICE Conference 2013’ how the country will be more effective at targeting MICE business. Quality is of utmost importance according to SLCB agenda: upgraded infrastructure to meet industry requirements, transport solutions to ensure speedy and convenient travel, easy access to attractions, well-coordinated and effective marketing, international quality standards for products and manpower requirements. Work is also conducted on speeding up immigration clearance at airports with dedicated counters for foreign travellers, hassle free taxi service at airports, trained tour guides, well-coordinated Tourist Police as well as higher standards for guest houses and small hotels.

“We have also worked on identifying the target markets and customers and have focused promotional campaigns in chosen markets. Such work helps strengthen links with international tour associations,” he said. “While the Government takes on the planning, policy making role while providing common infrastructure and identifying new tourism areas, the private sector must identify and invest into new business opportunities, build capacity, train staff and improve service standard as well as continuously create value added products and market year-round capacity management,” declared Wanigasekara. Recently the SLCB has been able to successfully bid to host the GCRA, International Conference on Media – hosted last February – as well as the World Blood Donors Day next June and next November the International Conference on Obstetrics and Gynaecology (FIGO). FIGO will bring over 1,000 medical professionals into the country, including world renowned researchers, academicians and speakers. Sri Lanka is also bidding to host Asian Youth Games in Sri Lanka in 2017.


Ramada Hotel looking to expand in Germany and SL

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Franchise holder of Ramada Hotel in Frankfurt, Sam Samarasinghe is looking at expanding in both Germany and Sri Lanka. Group and Sales and Marketing Manager, Millennium Hospitality International, Laura Nicli said that they currently managing five hotels in Frankfurt City centre area and are looking at expanding.

We have over 500 beds in both rooms and in hostels, she said. We are currently in the process of upgrading these five properties Mercure, Ramada Frankfurt, Clarion Collection, Comfort Hotel and the up market United Hostel from time to time to meet the growing demand of our diversified clientele.

She said that their main clientele are business and leisure travelers who patronize there hotels for short stays, on average two days. Our clientele also include Sri Lankans and many South Asians as well.

She said that Frankfurt also hosts many international events including conferences, exhibitions and other MICE events, these help them to maintain high occupancies YOY. Many hotels are over booked due to this factor and also due to our hotel being placed near the city centre in Frankfurt. Sri Lankan born Chairman Nihal Samarasinha, who has being in Frankfurt for over 40 years said that they are looking at Sri Lanka seriously as the country has great positional. Samarasinghe, who is also the Deputy Chairman, Global Towers Management (Pvt) Limited told Daily News that they would be investing on similar property in Jaffna. This 100 room hotel would see an investment of Rs. 750 million and it would be branded as Global Towers Jaffna.

“This will be the first of its kind hotel in Jaffna where people would be even able to buy apartments and rent it back to them to manage. This concept is also available at our Wellawatte property, Global Towers,” he said.

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President to open Citrus Waskaduwa on Sunday

Citrus Waskaduwa owned and operated by Citrus Leisure will be opened on Sunday by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Chairman of Citrus Leisure Group Prema Cooray, said they had invested nearly Rs. two billion to build this five star property. “The Waskaduwa area has been identified as a potential hub for tourists and is also turning out to be a major MICE destination.

To attract people to this segment we have built the largest conference area sans any pillars. “With Blue Water expanding and offering large conference facilities we too have matched this and we hope with our presence the area would be identified as a major MICE destination.” Citrus Leisure currently also owns Citrus Hikkaduwa and Citrus Bolgoda and Citrus Kalpitiya which is under construction.

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