SLAPCEO President Says Time To Focus On Billion-Dollar Trade Fair And Meetings Industry

Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition and Event Organisers (SLAPCEO) newly elected President Imran Hassan says now is the best time for Sri Lanka to strategically focus on being ready to open up to this industry. 

He said like Singapore and Dubai the trade fair, meetings and destination events industry can play a huge role in giving the Sri Lankan economy the much-needed boost it required. 

“Sri Lanka should focus her marketing strategy in breaking into the billion-dollar industry of trade fairs, meetings and destination events, which has long been neglected. When Sri Lanka reopens her doors to the world this needs to be one of the key factors in Sri Lanka’s marketing strategy,” Hassan said. 

According to him Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning is one of the country’s significant assets in this industry. “We should focus our attention at making it a global hub, such as Dubai and Singapore. They recognised the value of this industry decades before and have taken it to the next level of a global meeting hub to the world,” he said. 

He said that Sri Lanka also has all the characteristics needed to become the meeting/business centre to this part of the world. “With our friendly relationships with our neighbours and convenient accessibility and connectivity, we have much to offer. Our close proximity of just 40 km from one of the biggest markets in the world – India, is another huge advantage. We have always been a service-oriented economy, from tourism to ICT with service-oriented human resources,” Hassan said. 

Sri Lanka has trained professionals who are currently involved in the trade fairs, meetings and destination events industry and most of these professionals are employees of the member companies of the SLAPCEO who are very much engaged in the services of the trade fairs, meetings and events industry with relative international connections. Sri Lanka also has a Government body focusing on this industry namely – Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) which is the main Government agency to promote Sri Lanka as a hub. 

“The sad part is that while we have been having the basic requirements and infrastructure since 1976 the inception of BMICH hosting of events such as the non-aligned Nations Conference and UFTAA we have not built on this and caught up with the world due to many reasons such as the war and political instability. Now Sri Lanka has to play catch up with countries like UAE, even though Sri Lankans were pioneers in this field,” the new SLAPCEO President said. 

According to him some areas the country needed to focus on were infrastructure facilities, strategic marketing plans, policy and training in order to achieve our goals of becoming the central hub in this part of the world. 

“This will not only give our tourism industry a boost but also ensure that Sri Lankan businesses will benefit through the connections, investments and the joint ventures that will come through Sri Lanka,” he added.

“We are not only just speaking of the trade fairs, meetings and events industry but of taking a major step towards the direction of economic prosperity. The Port City holds great opportunity to boost this industry in Sri Lanka, if we focus our attention strategically in this area,” Hassan said. 

SLAPCEO intends to meet with the Government authorities and share its views and plans in a bid to get the industry included in the national plan for the next decade. It will also strive as an industry to collaborate with other tourism associations to achieve common goals. “We intend to meet with the authorities of the tourism industry and especially with the new finance minister to share our plans. We will also share our views with the media through a press conference shortly,” Hassan added.

He was elected at the SLAPCEO virtual AGM held on 30 June. The following members were appointed to the main board: CDC Events & Travels President Imran Hassan, Kairos Events & Weddings Vice President Janice Hakel-Ranasinghe, Aitken Spence Conventions & Exhibitions Secretary Nadeeka Leeniyagoda, M & S Travels Solutions Treasurer Dr. Shaffaath Amidon, Jetwing Events Ltd. Immediate Past President Nalin Ariyaratne, Board Committee Members Aasim Mukthar – Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services Ltd., Nadun Egodage – Beyond Boundaries Global Ltd., Esther Goonatillake – Columbus Tours Ltd., Devanthi Ambuldeniya – BMICH and Ifham Aariff – Eventistry Ltd.

Source; Daily FT

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