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Sri Lanka announces plans for new convention centre

Sri Lanka Convention Bureau says it plans to build a bigger and better convention centre after securing land

Sri Lanka has unveiled plans for a third large-scale convention centre as it sets out to achieve its vision of becoming Asia's darling for meetings and events.

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau says land has been secured for the centre outside the capital Colombo, and that construction should be completed within three years.

Sri Lanka currently has a 1500-capacity convention centre and a smaller one that can house 300 attendees, both in Colombo.

Speaking at IMEX Frankfurt this week, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau general manager Vipula Wanigasekera said a larger alternative was needed to help facilitate meetings and incentive trips.

"We're a nation that is undergoing rapid economic development, particularly in the last two years," he said.

"We have three pillars of strengths; our attractions and locations are authentic, our diversity is unmatched and everything is accessible - what is unique in Sri Lanka is you can get from one place to another within a few hours."

Tourism in Sri Lanka has been steadily increasing, with projected numbers for 2015 expected to reach 2 million. That is up from 1.52 million last year and 1.27 million in 2013. It hopes to top 2.5 million visitors in 2016.

Mr Wanigasekera said the number of major conferences had also risen, with twice the amount of events being held in 2014 than the previous year. 

He said the island country was an ideal destination for incentive trips because of its wildlife, natural beauty, culture and hospitality.

"One of our strategies is we want every departing tourist to become an ambassador for Sri Lanka," he said.

"We think our biggest strength is our people are hospitable."

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