Exhibition & Event Organisers (SLAPCEO)
TIME TO FOCUS ON THE BILLION DOLLAR TRADE FAIR & MEETINGS INDUSTRY- NEW SLAPCEO PRESIDENT
Sri Lanka Association of Professional Conference, Exhibition & Event Organisers (SLAPCEO) held it’s virtual AGM on the 30th of June 2021. The following members were appointed to the main board: Mr. Imran Hassan (President) – CDC Events & Travels, Ms. Janice Hakel-Ranasinghe (Vice President) – Kairos Events & Weddings, Ms. Nadeeka Leeniyagoda (Secretary) – Aitken Spence Conventions & Exhibitions, Dr. Shaffaath Amidon (Treasurer) – M & S Travels Solutions, Mr. Nalin Ariyaratne (Immediate Past President) – Jetwing Events Pvt. Ltd. Along with Mr. Aasim Mukthar – Lanka Exhibition and Conference Services Pvt. Ltd. Mr. Nadun Egodage – Beyond Boundaries Global Pvt. Ltd, Ms. Esther Goonatillake – Columbus Tours Pvt. Ltd., Ms. Devanthi Ambuldeniya – BMICH and Mr. Ifham Aariff – Eventistry Pvt Ltd., as board committee members.
Mr. Imran Hassan, the new president of SLAPCEO says, now is the best time for Sri Lanka to strategically focus on being ready to open up to this industry. Like Singapore and Dubai the Trade fair, Meetings & Destination Events industry can play a huge role in giving the Sri Lankan economy the much needed boost it requires. 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 re-opens her doors to the world this needs to be one of the key factors in Sri Lanka’s marketing strategy.
Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning is one of our significant assets in this industry. We should focus our attention at making it a global hub, such as Dubai and Singapore. They recognized the value of this industry decades before and have taken it to the next level of a global meeting hub to the world. 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 neighbors and convenient accessibility and connectivity, we have much to offer. Our close proximity of just 40kms 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.
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 Lankan were pioneers in this field.
Some areas we need to focus on are 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. As you may understand, 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. We intend to meet with the government authorities and share our views and plans with a view of getting it included in the national plan for the next decade. We will also strive as an industry to collaborate with other tourism associations to achieve our 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.