- 30-year-old industry recognized for the first time in the national budget
- Rs. 500m allocated to facilitate and motivate industry affected by COVID
- EMASL says need to understand how allocations will be made
- Many skilled employees have moved to other industries due to the 18-month shutdown, lack of livelihoods
- Industry has potential to rebound with “MICE” events, destination weddings, corporate events
By Charumini de Silva
The multi-billion rupee event management industry yesterday hailed the government for recognizing its craft for the first time in a national budget and allocating funds to compensate the COVID-hit sector.
|Roshan Wijeyarathne, President of EMASL
“We appreciate Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa for recognizing our industry, which has been carefully built over the past 30 years and for allocating Rs. 500 million to compensate for losses suffered during the COVID pandemic,” said the President of the Events Management Association of Sri Lanka (EMASL), Roshan Wijeyarathne, to the Daily FT.
In the 2022 budget, under the special sectors which lost income during the pandemic, the Minister of Finance proposed to allocate Rs. 500 million to the events industry to facilitate and motivate the sector.
“Our industry has been the only sector that has been closed for 18 consecutive months. Although few industries like weddings were permitted from time to time, there were absolutely no corporate events – which was a huge success for all involved,” he pointed out. Events are considered essential for businesses as a vital “live communication” tool. , which enables a cross-section of industries to introduce new products to market and generate sales. In this context, a high frequency of corporate events is often correlated with a healthy economy.
The event management industry is worth over Rs. 30 billion and is among the Rs. 150 billion in the marketing communications sector. Although it attracts foreign currency into the economy, especially through Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) events, the industry has provided jobs for thousands of people.
EMASL, which has 65 member companies, has provided 130,000 direct jobs and 600,000 livelihoods. However, given the pandemic-induced industry shutdown, Wijeyarathne said most of the trained staff have now moved to different sectors to earn a living.
Most members of the association have made massive investments, ranging from Rs. 10 million to Rs. 800 million per company, on infrastructure, equipment and skills development. Without work for 18 months, these millions of pieces of equipment and devices malfunctioned or were completely damaged.
“The next step in this step-by-step decision is to understand with government and stakeholders how allocations are going to be made,” he said, adding that EMASL members plan to meet on Wednesday (24) to discuss the way forward. post-pandemic.
Although the allocation was not sufficient given its scale and the losses suffered by stakeholders, Wijeyarathne said recognition for the first time in the national budget of the 30-year-old industry in the middle of the pandemic and economic hardship was very commendable.
“Our industry was first recognized when the Central Bank extended the financial moratorium to sectors affected by COVID. We are extremely grateful to the government for their recognition and for considering our contribution to the national economy in the post-COVID recovery process,” he said.
Wijeyarathne also said that the event management industry holds great potential to showcase Sri Lanka as an entertainment hub in South Asia, especially with the upcoming Port City mega project.
“We are a local industry with local talent and investment. Nobody thinks about all the procedure that goes on behind the scenes to organize massive events. This is not limited to the price of a ticket, but includes many technical and creative aspects to make an event memorable. All of our members are registered and contribute to government coffers,” he said.
The two-year-old EMASL is registered with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and is also a member of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka (FCCISL).
He also said that it was imperative that all stakeholders strive to support the industry and continue to invest and grow to retain the competitive edge and generate the much-needed foreign exchange.
“With the successive administration of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world, the easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of tourism have given hope to the industry. We hope the industry bounces back with MICE events, destination weddings and many other corporate events that have been restricted for 18 months,” Wijeyarathne said.