In­dia sees high prospects for MICE Travel

Given the pos­i­tive busi­ness sen­ti­ment, grow­ing size of econ­omy and in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional trade, In­dia’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in global MICE is set to in­crease across sec­tors:

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To­day, MICE, or Meet­ings, In­cen­tives, Con­fer­ences, and Events, travel isn’t only about show­ing your em­ploy­ees or part­ners a won­der­ful time; in­stead it is about walk­ing the fine line of pro­vid­ing an un­for­get­table unique ex­pe­ri­ence while en­sur­ing higher ROI. Keep­ing this in mind, var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional tourism or­ga­ni­za­tions have evolved spe­cial strate­gies for MICE in In­dia. This also presents tourism boards with a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity to ex­pect an ex­cep­tional in­crease in num­ber of tourists.

Also, there is an in­creas­ing trend in mov­ing away from the tra­di­tional meet­ing scenes, with peo­ple now will­ing to go beyond the board­rooms and choos­ing open spa­ces.

Han­neli Slab­ber, Coun­try Man­ager for In­dia at South Africa Tourism, com­mented on fac­tors that make South Africa at­trac­tive for MICE: “We be­lieve that we a have a win­ning com­bi­na­tion that will pro­pel our growth in the seg­ment - a favourable cur­rency ex­change, di­verse cui­sine in­clud­ing nu­mer­ous veg­e­tar­ian and In­dian op­tions. Var­i­ous ex­pe­ri­ences across wildlife, ad­ven­ture and breath tak­ing views as well as at­trac­tions for shop­ping and night life along with a wide va­ri­ety of graded ac­com­mo­da­tion makes South Africa a pre­ferred MICE des­ti­na­tion for In­dian or­ga­ni­za­tions.”


A re­cent global Des­ti­na­tion In­dex re­vealed the top des­ti­na­tions in Asia, Europe, the Mid­dle East, and the United States for meet­ings and in­cen­tives. The global Des­ti­na­tion In­dex, which is com­piled by the lead­ing Global DMC and Event Man­age­ment Com­pa­nies, Pa­cific World and AC­CESS Des­ti­na­tion Ser­vices, iden­ti­fies each year the coun­tries and cities most thriv­ing within the meet­ings, in­cen­tives and con­fer­ences in­dus­tries.

Thai­land, In­done­sia and Singapore were recog­nised as the top coun­tries in Asia for meet­ings and in­cen­tives, with Bangkok and Bali voted as the most pop­u­lar cities, and meet­ings and in­cen­tives be­ing the most re­quested event types in Singapore. Gov­ern­men­tal sta­bil­ity, at­trac­tive ex­change rates and im­proved flight con­nec­tions were fac­tors con­tribut­ing to the in­creased at­ten­tion from source mar­kets in­clud­ing North Amer­ica, Aus­tralia and other Asian re­gions.

Dif­fer­ent coun­tries have their pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for MICE. Auck­land, Ro­torua, Queen­stown, Wellington, Christchurch are the top re­gions in New Zealand for MICE. The key at­trac­tions for MICE in New Zealand in­clude unique venues for gala din­ners, he­li­copter scenic flights and glacier land­ings. There are also pop­u­lar at­trac­tions such as luge rides, jet boat­ing, maori cul­ture and nat­u­ral at­trac­tions such as Mil­ford Sound fiord in Fiord­land Na­tional Park.

Ig­na­cio Du­casse Gu­tier­rez, Tourism Coun­selor, Em­bassy of Spain in In­dia and Direc­tor, Tourism Of­fice of Spain in In­dia, speaks on the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for MICE: “Madrid and Barcelona are the

two main des­ti­na­tions for MICE in Spain; how­ever, we are try­ing to equally pro­mote other des­ti­na­tions such as Bil­bao, San Se­bastián, Va­len­cia, Sevilla, Málaga, Ibiza and the Ca­nary Is­lands. Spain is a very di­verse coun­try, with a won­der­ful cli­mate, fab­u­lous her­itage, cul­ture and gas­tron­omy and a very wel­com­ing life­style that is per­fect for in­cen­tives.”

Korea ranks very high when it comes to MICE des­ti­na­tion glob­ally. It is among the top 10 MICE coun­tries glob­ally with its cap­i­tal city Seoul rank­ing 3rd best MICE city glob­ally as per the lat­est 2016 rank­ings by Union of In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tions UIA. Byung­sun Lee, Direc­tor, Korea Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion, In­dia, re­veals the top MICE des­ti­na­tions in Korea: “For In­dia vis­i­tors, Seoul has been the pri­mary des­ti­na­tion pop­u­lar for MICE tourism. Two other places which can gen­er­ate in­ter­est for MICE groups are Jeju Is­land and Bu­san. All the three lo­ca­tions of­fer ex­cel­lent con­nec­tiv­ity, great ho­tels and venues, un­lim­ited shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment and last, but not the least, In­dian food. Hence all the three lo­ca­tions are fully equipped to han­dle In­dian MICE busi­ness. There are many at­trac­tions in all the lo­ca­tions. To se­lec­tively name one fa­mous at­trac­tion per location would be Gyeong­buk­gung Palace with its chang­ing of guard cer­e­mony in Seoul, the Seongsan Sun­rise Peak (tuff cone vol­cano) in Jeju Is­land and the Cen­tum City Shin­sae­gae de­part­men­tal store, the world’s largest shop­ping mall rec­og­nized by Guin­ness Book of World Records in Bu­san.”

Cape Town, Johannesburg and Dur­ban are the top des­ti­na­tions for MICE in South Africa. Vic­to­ria Wharf at the V&A Wa­ter­front, the Cape Quar­ter at Green Point, the Cavendish Square in Clare­mont and Tyger­val­ley shop­ping cen­tre are the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for MICE in Cape Town. Sand­ton city, Nel­son Man­dela square, Rose­bank mall, Soweto’s Maponya mall, African craft mar­ket in Johannesburg, Mar­ket of War­wick and Gate­way theatre are pop­u­lar at­trac­tions in Johannesburg. Pavillion shop­ping cen­tre, Bridge city shop­ping cen­tre, West­wood mall, La Lu­cia mall, Ri­naldo shop­ping cen­tre and the Cres­cent on Umh­langa Ridge are the pop­u­lar MICE des­ti­na­tion in Dur­ban.

In­dian busi­ness trav­ellers for MICE are seek­ing niche ex­pe­ri­ences in Oman like canyon­ing, scuba div­ing, golf­ing, self-drive tours among oth­ers. Dif­fer­ent re­gions in Oman are pop­u­lar for dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties. Mus­cat can be ex­plored for dol­phin watch­ing, sail­ing and jet ski­ing. Day­maniyat Is­lands is fa­mous for snorkelling and scuba div­ing, Masirah Is­land is an ex­cel­lent place to go for kite surf­ing; Ja­bal Shams is fa­mous for hik­ing and trekking trips, and quad bik­ing can be ex­pe­ri­enced in Shar­qiyah Sands. Some of the best Souqs (lo­cal mar­ket) in the Mid­dle East are in Oman. Mu­trah Souq in Mus­cat is a labyrinth of shops sell­ing colourful ar­ti­facts, hand­i­crafts and sou­venirs. The his­tor­i­cal forts and cas­tles of Oman are the coun­try’s most strik­ing cul­tural land­marks and there were over 500 forts stretched along the long coast­line of Oman.


Tourism New Zealand works with a range of com­mer­cial part­ners in the In­dian mar­ket. The tourism board has part­ner­ships for MICE with air­lines in­clud­ing Singapore Air­lines and Thai Air­ways where they work to­gether in joint ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. Steven Dixon, Re­gional Man­ager – South and South East Asia, Tourism New Zealand, shared his per­spec­tives on these tie-ups: “We have range of travel agent part­ners in joint mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. This year, we have part­nered with SOTC and Cox and Kings Ltd on joint mar­ket­ing cam­paigns to tar­get cor­po­rates with the ob­jec­tive to in­crease in­cen­tive groups to New Zealand.”

Spain Tourism Board had col­lab­o­rated with lo­cal trade pro­fes­sion­als in Spain, venues, ho­tels, DMCS and much more. Ig­na­cio Du­casse Gu­tier­rez added: “In In­dia, we work very closely with dif­fer­ent air­lines, es­pe­cially Air In­dia, which launched a direct flight from Delhi to Madrid in De­cem­ber 2016 and Turk­ish Air­lines which has been our part­ner for sev­eral mar­ket­ing and trade ac­ti­va­tions.”

South Africa Tourism Board to has col­lab­o­rated with Air In­dia and Turk­ish Air­lines. It also has tie-up with sev­eral ho­tel chains (eg Melia, Ac­cor), and with the MICE agen­cies in In­dia.

Korea Tourism has car­ried out ac­tive MICE pro­mo­tions in strong col­lab­o­ra­tion with big travel agen­cies and air­lines. They do con­duct joint train­ing pro­grams from time to time at dif­fer­ence cities

Steven Dixon is in­ter­ested in joint mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties with travel com­pa­nies

Byung­sun Lee gives im­por­tance to BTL plat­forms & road­shows for MICE

in col­lab­o­ra­tion with air­lines such as Singapore Air­lines, Korean Air, etc. Korea tourism also has tie-ups with ho­tels such as Ac­cor group, where they ed­u­cate the travel agents of the re­spec­tive prod­ucts.


Tech­nol­ogy has taken the cen­tre stage in all in­dus­tries – es­pe­cially in tourism. To­day, peo­ple de­cide where to go next based on posts on Face­book, In­sta­gram, and the like - thus, tech­nol­ogy helps in­flu­ence their des­ti­na­tion choices. Self­ies & check-ins at pop­u­lar places have also be­come an in­te­gral part of hol­i­days, and are in­stru­men­tal in pro­mo­tions by tourism boards. More­over, it has been es­tab­lished that 89% of dig­i­tal pro­mo­tions are con­sumed via the phone. The online world has be­come a place where one not just look for in­for­ma­tion, but also for in­spi­ra­tion, for ad­ven­ture, for beauty – and all these senses play into de­sires to travel.

For pro­mot­ing MICE in In­dia, Korea Tourism is mainly us­ing BTL plat­forms such as or­ga­niz­ing road­shows, par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­puted B2B and MICE re­lated events. Byung­sun Lee shares his views on use of B2B mag­a­zines to pro­mote MICE: “We re­strict our­selves to travel trade mag­a­zines and some of re­puted busi­ness mag­a­zines such as For­tune, Forbes, Out­look Busi­ness, Busi­ness World, etc, to pro­mote MICE in In­dia.”

Egypt is tar­get­ing trav­ellers from the big cities of In­dia. It also in­tends to pen­e­trate to tier 2&3 cities. The tourism board con­ducted road shows in Mum­bai, New Delhi, Ahmed­abad and Ban­ga­lore to pro­mote MICE tourism in In­dia.

Ig­na­cio Du­casse Gu­tier­rez rec­om­mend the use of sev­eral plat­forms and chan­nels to pro­mote MICE in In­dia: “We pro­mote our des­ti­na­tions through print and online, we have strength­ened our B2B re­la­tion­ships through work­shops, pre­sen­ta­tions, road­shows and fam trips.”

Ras Al-khaimah in UAE is grow­ing as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. The tourism author­ity of Ras Al-khaimah is do­ing dynamic mar­ket­ing, and part­ner­ships and co-mar­ket­ing agree­ments with some of the key op­er­a­tors like Thomas Cook, which have helped them to cre­ate aware­ness. Fur­ther­more, the tourism author­ity has signed a part­ner­ship with Air In­dia Ex­press, as land­ing di­rectly to Ras Al-khaimah has also been crit­i­cal.

Qatar Tourism Author­ity will host 40 prom­i­nent tour op­er­a­tors, travel agents and me­dia from Ger­many, along with me­dia and plan­ners spe­cial­is­ing in MICE tourism from var­i­ous key global mar­kets.


New Zealand works closely with cor­po­rates from var­i­ous seg­ments like bank­ing and fi­nance, paints, gar­ments, au­to­mo­biles, ce­ment, etc to tar­get for MICE in In­dia. Korea Tourism tar­gets sec­tors like phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, in­sur­ance, au­to­mo­bile and elec­tron­ics.

Han­neli shares her views on the po­ten­tial mar­kets in In­dia: “South Africa Tourism Board mainly tar­gets the pharma and IT sec­tor for MICE in In­dia. More­over, in­cen­tive and busi­ness trav­ellers spend around 19 nights on an av­er­age, which pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to be ex­tended into a fam­ily holiday, post the pro­gram con­cludes.”

She fur­ther added: “In­dian cor­po­rates as well as meet­ings and events plan­ners al­ways have a keen eye out on ac­ces­si­bil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity, but most im­por­tantly, they’re look­ing to cre­ate an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence. Cities like Mum­bai, Delhi and Ahmed­abad are ma­ture mar­kets for us but we are wit­ness­ing good ar­rival fig­ures from cities like Hyderabad, Ban­ga­lore, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. In the com­ing years, we hope to see an in­crease in MICE busi­ness from mini-met­ros and tier II mar­kets in In­dia.”


KINTEX lo­cated in the out­skirts of Seoul city is the big­gest MICE fa­cil­ity in Korea with more than 100,000 sq mt of ex­hi­bi­tion space and 6200 sq mt of meet­ing space. This gi­gan­tic fa­cil­ity hosted the Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion 2016 which ac­com­mo­dated ap­prox. 46,000 peo­ple at one time. All ma­jor in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions in Korea, in­clud­ing Korea Build and Seoul Mo­tor Show, take place in this location.

South Africa is an ex­cit­ing op­tion for meet­ings, with more than 1700 con­fer­ence venues in­clud­ing large con­ven­tion cen­ters lo­cated in the top cities viz. Dur­ban, Johannesburg, Cape Town and East Lon­don which ef­fec­tively cater to events of any type. Be­sides meet­ings, South Africa is boom­ing as a con­fer­ence des­ti­na­tion. In terms of MICE from In­dia, in­cen­tive led travel dom­i­nates, at ap­prox­i­mately 80%. A lot of re­quests come from strat­egy-

Ig­na­cio Du­cas­tel Gu­tier­rez fo­cuses on part­ner­ships with air­lines to pro­mote MICE

han­neli Slab­ber be­lieves in pro­vid­ing a com­bi­na­tion of cui­sine and ad­ven­ture to lure trav­ellers

plan­ning in­cen­tives, where trav­ellers opt for un­usual team-bond­ing set­ups like, around a tra­di­tional camp fire or on game drive ve­hi­cles, which not only add a tinge of un­con­ven­tion­al­ity but also en­cour­age dis­cus­sions and di­a­logue.

Han­neli shares the de­tails about the con­fer­ence venues in South Africa: “In­cen­tive-led trav­ellers are al­ways on the look­out for cul­tur­ally rich, off-the-beaten track ex­pe­ri­ences that can cater to a wide va­ri­ety of in­di­vid­ual tastes and South Africa is the per­fect op­tion. A ma­jor change has also been ob­served in terms of trav­eller mo­ti­va­tion – com­pa­nies do not pre­fer of­fer­ing a paid holiday any­more, they are more driven to­wards holis­tic pro­grams where they can im­bibe their com­pany’s val­ues and ben­e­fits. South Africa, be­cause of the healthy econ­omy and rapidly grow­ing in­ter­na­tional trade, has seen an up­surge of busi­ness trav­ellers from In­dia. Cor­po­rates such as HDFC, Her­cules, 9X Me­dia, ACC Ce­ment and Si­yaram Silk, have or­ga­nized their MICE trips to South Africa. Also, re­peat busi­ness trav­eller growth stands at ap­prox­i­mately 35%.”

New Zealand busi­ness events go beyond con­ven­tion. New Zealand not only of­fers a pic­turesque back­drop to a busi­ness event, but also has state-of-the-art con­fer­ence fa­cil­i­ties across both the North and South is­lands. With In­dian com­pa­nies in­creas­ingly look­ing at over­seas in­cen­tive and team-build­ing des­ti­na­tions, the coun­try of­fers an ar­ray of unique ac­tiv­i­ties and ex­pe­ri­ences that can be cus­tom­ized to fit a group’s bud­get and ob­jec­tive. New Zealand is a great place for MICE travel, and can cater to events up to 2000 peo­ple. There are out­stand­ing venues from ho­tels to pur­pose-built con­ven­tion cen­tres spread across both North Is­land and South Is­land - all staffed by peo­ple who show­case New Zealand’s very warm hos­pi­tal­ity. New Zealand caters well for events of up to 2000 del­e­gates.

There are many huge MICE fa­cil­i­ties and venues in Spain, for ex­am­ple, Ifema in Madrid, Fira Barcelona, Fe­ria de Va­len­cia. One of the ma­jor events that took place in June 2016 was the IIFA Awards in Ifema Madrid with an at­ten­dance of more than 20,000 peo­ple. The MICE tourism sec­tor will re­ceive a sig­nif­i­cant boost with the re­cent launch of the Oman Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre in Mus­cat. The sec­ond phase of the cen­tre is sched­uled to launch by the end of 2017. This cen­tre will in­clude state of the art the­atres, con­fer­ence rooms and 4 ho­tels with al­most 1000 rooms along with ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion halls that can cater to tens of thousands of peo­ple at a time.


The Tourism New Zealand bid team is fo­cussed on pro­mot­ing New Zealand as a com­pelling busi­ness events des­ti­na­tion in the core mar­kets of Aus­tralia, China, South East Asia, USA and the Global As­so­ci­a­tion mar­ket.

Korea Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion – In­dia of­fice is pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for In­dia and its neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. How­ever, glob­ally Korea at­tracts ma­jor­ity of is MICE tourism busi­ness from China and South Asia. In­dia is one of the ma­jor po­ten­tial mar­kets where the tourism to Korea is very much at its nascent stage and is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing con­tin­u­ous growth for the past few years.

South Africa Tourism Board gets ma­jor­ity of the busi­ness from the UK, Europe and North Amer­ica. Among these coun­tries, the ma­jor­ity of the busi­ness comes from the UK, Canada, Ger­many, Malaysia, Singapore and Aus­tralia. “Our main mar­kets are in Europe, mainly UK, Ger­many and France. How­ever, we also re­ceive big num­bers for the MICE seg­ment from the USA, UAE and South Amer­ica. In Asia, we are tar­get­ing big mar­kets such as China and Ja­pan fol­lowed by South-east Asia and of course In­dia,” added Ig­na­cio Du­casse Gu­tier­rez.


The MICE night and short ex­per­i­men­tal tours are the new de­vel­op­ments. Korea MICE Night 2017 is an ex­am­ple for it. The MICE night 2017 was a very suc­cess­ful event that was or­ga­nized ear­lier this year. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with re­gional tourism boards of Seoul, Gyeonggi and In­cheon, KTO brought to­gether 17 ex­hibitors from Korea in­clud­ing ho­tels, trans­porters, cruises, venues, re­gional tourism boards and DMC’S.

Byung­sun Lee said: “This was the largest ever Korean del­e­ga­tion to come for B2B meet­ings with travel part­ners. Morn­ing full day travel mart had all the travel in­dus­try of Delhi NCR re­gion vis­it­ing and in­ter­act­ing with the ex­hibitors. Evening MICE night was a cul­mi­na­tion of the event with a grand celebration in­clud­ing fan­tas­tic Korean per­for­mance and Korean food with some MICE des­ti­na­tion in­for­ma­tion of course.”


We live in an in­ter-de­pen­dent and in­ter­con­nected world. The MICE sec­tor’s growth in the re­gion will also rely on the over­all health of the global econ­omy. The newer play­ers in the MICE sec­tor will have to build on their unique sell­ing points in or­der to es­tab­lish them­selves as a se­ri­ous des­ti­na­tion for busi­ness. How­ever, gov­ern­ments are strate­gi­cally in­vest­ing in the tourism in­dus­try, which is al­ready an im­mense boost to the sec­tor.

It is im­por­tant to con­stantly in­no­vate and ex­plore dynamic and en­gag­ing ways of di­ver­si­fy­ing of­fer­ings to ap­peal to a larger base of ex­hibitors and at­ten­dees. As more cities em­pha­sise their MICE of­fer­ings, there will be in­tra-re­gional com­pe­ti­tion, which is a pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment, as it will force all those in­volved to be at their best at any given point in time.

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