Conventions Bureau to include MICE tourism in tourist ETA system 

Global MICE industry expected to reach $ 1.5 trillion by 2025

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), in collaboration with the Department of Immigration and Emigration, has made arrangements to include meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) tourism in the tourist electronic travel authorisation (ETA) application. 

Accordingly, MICE tourism, weddings, sports events, and pilgrimages have been included in the tourist ETA application under the “Purpose of Visit” segment, which is to be recognized under the tourist visa category with this recent arrangement.   

The SLCB is of the view that this facilitation will provide a solution to the long-standing issue faced by the local travel industry regarding the unavailability of MICE statistics.  

MICE is an acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions-related events. Globally, MICE tourism has emerged as a key revenue-generating niche for the industry and is separate from leisure tourism. It is not a new sector for Sri Lanka and goes back to 1976 when the fifth non-aligned summit was hosted in Sri Lanka.  

As per research findings, the global MICE industry is expected to reach $ 1.5 trillion by 2025 (Allied Market Research, February 2018). The International Convention and Congress Association (ICCA) published that the size of the global meeting industry is $ 860 billion in 2018. The discussion emphasised that the industry is an important segment with potential for growth. 

Due to this reason, the real potential of the MICE industry could not be explored the research noted, adding that the in-house methods used by SLCB over the past years for data collection were not successful to capture the data.  

With the facilitation of MICE tourism under the tourist visa stream, MICE visitors and groups can now apply for visas under the tourist visa category. SLCB expects to inform the local travel industry about the new facility and thereby recognise all MICE visitors. 

Although MICE is a promising segment with high potential, the unavailability of statistics was a major drawback to benchmarking the Sri Lanka MICE industry. The main reason for the non-availability of MICE statistics was that the ETA system did not provide provisions to include MICE tourism, weddings, and sports events in the application form; only meetings and conferences were categorized under the business visa ETA. There is a $ 10 difference between tourist visas and business visas. Since meetings and conferences were categorized under the business visa, most MICE travelers tended to obtain tourist visas instead of business visas due to the difference in visa fees.