Sri Lanka wants Indian business tourists to return

After drastic dip in MICE revenue following Easter terror attack, the industry is showing signs of recovery

MICE accounts for 8% to 10% of the total tourism industry in Sri Lanka.

MUMBAI - In the wake of the Easter bombings in April, Sri Lanka is working to attract tourists back to the island.

In its bid to promote itself as a MICE destination, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) organised a promotional event called "Meet in Sri Lanka" in the Indian financial hub of Mumbai.

"India is the key source market for the development of MICE business to Sri Lanka. With our current mission, we are targeting key markets of India like Mumbai and Pune," SLCB marketing manager Malkanthi Welikala was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

"There is a strong cultural bond and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka, which makes Indian travellers feel at home when they are in Sri Lanka."

Officials said Sri Lanka's tourism industry witnessed a drastic dip in revenue after the terror attack, bringing down its estimated revenue to US$3.5 billion in 2019 from US$4.4 billion in 2018.

Between January and September, India's share of tourists to Sri Lanka, which is the highest tourism marker for the country, dipped to 2,41,666 from 3,01,784 in 2018, and the brunt of this decline was faced by the MICE industry. MICE accounts for 8% to 10% of the total tourism industry in Sri Lanka, and 10% of this is contributed by India alone.

"Just after the (terror) incident we saw some MICE cancellations, but now we are recovering," said Ms Welikala.

However, she maintained that the industry is showing definite signs of improvement over the past few months and would hopefully recover completely by next year.

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