Tuesday, February 7, 2023

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MICE travelers to be recognized under tourist visa category

Sri Lanka Tourism is rolling out efforts to better capture details of travelers entering the country under Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions/Events (MICE) tourism segment by including the segment in the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) application.

The measure is implemented by the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) in collaboration with the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Under the new arrangement, MICE travelers will be recognized under the tourist visa category. Previously, MICE tourism, including pilgrims, and visitors entering the country for weddings, and sports events were listed in the ETA application under ‘Purpose of Visit’.

In a statement to the media, the SLCB said it is of view that this facilitation will provide a solution for the long-lasting issue faced by the local travel industry on the unavailability of MICE statistics.

While Sri Lanka Tourism considers MICE as a promising segment with high potential, the unavailability of statistics served as a significant drawback to benchmarking Sri Lanka’s MICE industry.

The SLCB attributed the non-availability of MICE statistics to the lack of provisions made by the ETA application form to include MICE Tourism, weddings, and sports events. So far, only meetings and conferences have been categorized under the Business visa ETA.

“There is a gap of US$ 10 between a tourist visa and business visa. Since meetings and conferences were categorized under business visa, most MICE travelers tend to obtain tourist visas instead of business visas due to the difference in visa fee,” the SLCB said.

The Bureau added that it is due to this reason that the real potential of the MICE industry could not be explored. It also noted that the in-house methods used by SLCB over the past years for data collection were not successful to capture the data.

Further, efforts are underway to increase awareness about the new facility so that all MICE visitors could be captured.

The global MICE industry is expected to reach US$ 1.5 trillion by 2025. according to Allied Market Research 2018.

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