Business tourism shaping up to become core national asset

September 20, 2022 | 10:48
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The MICE (meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition) segment could gain traction and help lead the wave of tourism recovery in Vietnam, if post-pandemic restrictions are eventually eased.

On September 8-10, the 16th International Travel Expo took place in Ho Chi Minh City, in which over 160 international buyers and 300 companies from more than 40 cities and provinces met to discuss cooperation and growth opportunities for business tourism in the country.

Business tourism shaping up to become core national asset
Business tourism shaping up to become core national asset

“Business events are the fastest track for economical and societal development. Activated as such, they are a core strategic asset for governments to drive their respective agendas,” said Kai Hattendorf, CEO of global tradeshow association UFI, at the event.

Based on UFI data from over 330 exhibition industry companies across the world and a forecast for the first half of 2023, the global exhibition industry’s revenue will reach 87 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. In Asia-Pacific, this figure is slightly lower at 79 per cent.

Celine Dejean, events manager at EXO Vietnam, estimated that daily spending for a typical foreign business tourist to Vietnam on incentive trips is around $300, excluding personal allowance, and a typical group is ranging from 20 to 500 people. In return, these tourists expect a certain level of luxury from at least 4-star international standards, team-building activities, and more besides.

However, the segment can be more demanding than others when it comes to efficiency. Dejean said, “It is very hard to find people who have the capacity to work in MICE. They need to be well-organised, willing to get out of their comfort zone, and have experience in a cross-cultural environment. We also have to revisit a lot of suppliers, services, and products that were wiped out or put on hibernation during pandemic lockdowns.”

Vietnam can learn from Thailand and Singapore in terms of a strong tourism authority presence, Dejean added. “The Thai Tourism Authority is at every major promotion and tourism event,” she said.

Meanwhile, Julian Wong, general manager of Sheraton Saigon Hotel and Towers said MICE tourism is about combining business with entertainment and relaxation. “Guests seek local experiences, food tours, and Vietnamese culture. Currently, Ho Chi Minh City is lacking the depth of tour excursions and activities that might appeal to guests,” Wong said. “We hope some activities, such as getting traditional ao dai tailored or pottery-making tours, could be kickstarted and we think MICE group planning for 2023 should include a blend of meetings, outside venues, tours, and other activities.”

Before the end of the year, Sheraton Saigon is expecting small group visits of around 30-50 people from global corporate companies from key industries like insurance, logistics, banking, and food and beverages.

Coming out of the pandemic’s restrictions, there is a number of challenges for MICE tourism to resume its business fully. According to Alexander Rayner, director for Government and Destinations Relations at Amadeus, strategies should align with capacity and demand. “There are only about 9.26 million available seats on international flights to Vietnam for this year, which is a little more than one-third of the 2019 level,” Rayner explained.

Vietnam’s MICE tourism expected to explode after COVID-19 Vietnam’s MICE tourism expected to explode after COVID-19

MICE, a type of tourism combining meetings, incentives, conferences, and events, is evaluated as a solution to revitalise the domestic tourism market. Many tourism establishments and some destinations in Vietnam are also implementing promotional campaigns as well as policies to attract new partners and guests for the local MICE segment.

HCM City nominated for Asia's Best MICE Destination in 2021 HCM City nominated for Asia's Best MICE Destination in 2021

Ho Chi Minh City has become one of the eight candidates nominated for the title of "Asia's Best MICE Destination 2021" by World MICE Award.

Ho Tram: the outstanding destination for MICE tourism Ho Tram: the outstanding destination for MICE tourism

Toward the peak travel season by the end of the year, MICE (meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition) tourism is heating up due to increasing demands in trade promotion, strengthening partnerships, and team building. In this trend, Ho Tram stands out as an ideal destination for the segment.

By Hong Nhung

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