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MICE contributes to 28.5% of Indian arrivals to South Africa

South Africa expects to garner 1.04 lakh tourists from India in 2018.

Photo: Unsplash

The Indian outbound market, which comprises 25 million tourists at present, is all set to double by 2020 according to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). South Africa expects to garner 1.04 lakh tourists from India in 2018 alone. South Africa, because of the healthy economy and rapidly growing international trade, has seen an upsurge of business travelers from India, who have notched up their length of stay from 14 to 19 days. They have also seen a spike in the number of MICE travelers to South Africa. It’s interesting to note that for the period of 2017, MICE contributed to 28.5% of total Indian arrivals.

Digital advances are, quite literally, changing the world. Technology has changed how we connect and inform ourselves. It has encouraged innovation and made the world a smaller, well-connected place. This has trickled and made its way across sectors, including tourism. It is hence not surprising that the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) elected ‘Tourism and Digital Transformation’ to be the global theme this World Tourism Day. The UNWTO promotes travel facilitation as a means to boost economic growth around the world. “Harnessing innovation and digital advances provides tourism with opportunities to improve inclusiveness, local community empowerment, and efficient resource management, amongst other objectives within the wider sustainable development agenda,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement.

Echoing the sentiment in India, Neliswa Nkani, Hub Head – Middle East, India, South East Asia, South African Tourism said, “Tourism boards are now strategically harnessing technology to innovatively promote their destination to potential travelers. In order for us to effectively reach our target audience, it is essential for us at South African Tourism to vividly bring alive the locations and experiences through virtual mediums. An apt reflection of our efforts would be the Google Street View initiative launched in November 2017, through which travelers are brought closer to our renowned national parks and reserves by accurate visual representation. These virtual initial experiences drive audience curiosity and bring alive the destination to potential visitors thus resulting in travel conversions. Indian travelers today, mostly millennials, rely heavily on social interaction for recommendations when considering a new destination and activities for their voyage – we at South African Tourism realize this. To tap into the pulse of this growing traveler segment, we forayed into the world of social media in 2017 with a dedicated Facebook page, specially customized for the India market. We also launched our Instagram India handle early in 2018. In fact, South African Tourism is one of the very few international tourism boards in India to have a standalone digital presence in the market.”




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Hong Kong the next big MICE destination?

In 2018, Hong Kong recorded close to two million overnight MICE arrivals, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.1%.

Hong Kong MICE

Over 60 winning agents from five markets received accolades at MEHK-hosted Awards Ceremony at Ocean Park Marriott Hotel.

Organized by Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong (MEHK), a division of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the Top MICE Agent Awards Ceremony and Mega Familiarisation Trip took place for the 7th consecutive year and concluded in unprecedented scale.

Held from March 6 to March 10, over 60 agents from five strategic markets, including Mainland China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and the new joiner – Thailand, gathered for a five-day rewarding familiarization trip with an award extravaganza as recognition.

“In 2018, Hong Kong recorded close to two million overnight MICE arrivals, representing a year-on-year growth of 2.1%. Short-haul markets performed with a particularly strong growth rate of 8.7%; as for the Meeting and Incentive segment; some markets recorded a double-digit growth rate including South Korea and our new strategic market, Thailand,” said Kenneth Wong, General Manager of the Hong Kong Tourism Board’s MICE and Cruise Division.

“In 2019, Hong Kong is setting off to a new era for MICE Tourism as we have many new infrastructures, new business potential with the Greater Bay Area and most importantly, exciting new experiences for MICE groups. Travel agents play a pivotal role and we would like to express our greatest appreciation through an excitement-filled ceremony and customized itinerary, to showcase there’s so much more Hong Kong can offer.”

Greater Opportunities Await with Rail & Bridge: A visit to the world’s dual super-infrastructure left the delegates awestruck as the world came closer with the new Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the High-Speed Rail Link (HK section), significantly cutting traveling time from Zhuhai to Hong Kong from 4 hours to 45 minutes and directly link Hong Kong to 44 cities in Mainland China, respectively.

Spark Inspiration with Local Heritage: From revitalized sites to well-preserved traditions, Hong Kong has many new options in store. From a rewarding experience having a cocktail behind bars at Tai Kwun, a former police compound over 170 years old, or a team workshop and cultural retail therapy at the Mills, a revitalized iconic textiles factory, or sampling local dim sum while enjoying the rich heritage of Cantonese opera at the Tea House of Xiqu Centre, part of the West Kowloon Cultural District Development, a new vibrant cultural quarter in the heart of Hong Kong.

Celebrate Success at One of the City’s Largest Pillar-less Ballrooms: The ceremony was hosted at the new Hong KongOcean Park Marriott Hotel, an urban oasis with the largest pillar-less ballroom on Hong Kong Island that spans over 13,000 sq. ft and hosts up to 1,200pax, in addition to a 16-metre high vertical aquarium that spans over three floors.

Behind-the-Scenes Experiences with Good Fortune Hong Kong: A tailor-made itinerary created especially for agents allows them to go temple hopping with exclusive privileges, including a behind-the-scenes tour at Wong Tai Sin Temple and ‘Good Fortune’ blessings charms as souvenirs.

Infuse the Great Outdoors into MICE Itinerary: Hong Kong has many sides and nature is one that is lesser-known. To promote the city’s rich greenery offerings for MICE, agents were arranged to go on a Geopark boat trip and hiking followed by a seafood lunch at Sai Kung and Lamma Island, and some be fascinated by the incredible view on Dragon’s Back, where they get to feel the city’s energy up top where the world literally at their feet.

Bond the Team with Fun-filled Workshops: Nothing builds the team better than a great fun-filled group experience. In a city known as a melting pot, cultural workshop ideas are abundant. From the local traditions of tai chiwing chun and Chinese calligraphy to mead crash course, ukulele jamming and dim sum making, there’s always one that fits your group.

New Integrated Meeting Solutions and Excitement at the City’s Two Leading Theme Parks: Hong Kong Disneyland is undergoing its multi-year expansion, which will provide new attractions or entertainment offerings almost every year, including its newest Marvel attraction, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! which opens on March 31. Ocean Park Hong Kong, meanwhile, has a Water World in the works and it is set to become the first and only waterfront water park in Southeast Asia, perfect for those who want to relax with a splash.

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India a key market for Los Angeles

2018 was a stellar year for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board in the India market, as it witnessed an increase in 5.1% year-on-year growth with 130,000 Indian travelers jetting off to the City of Angels during the course of the year. Their brand marketing and communications strategy in the India market has resulted in the market gaining one spot, from being the 4th highest international year-on-year growth market in 2017 to now being the 3rd highest in 2018.

India’s encouraging 2018 performance is a reflection of the destination’s steadily rising preference amongst Indians planning trips to the U.S. India is an important and rapidly growing market for the tourism board, and Indian traveler trends and demands have inspired added efforts to tap the tremendous potential it offers. In a clear indication of the Indian market’s value proposition, over the past 18 months, the tourism board has strategically invested in consumer marketing campaigns as well as continued hosting familiarization trips to showcase the destination.

In addition to this India-specific achievement, Los Angeles reached a historic milestone in 2018, welcoming 50 million visitors for the first time ever and accomplishing the destination’s ambitious tourism goal two years early. The new record is 1.5 million visitors higher than 2017’s total – a 3.1% increase – marking the eighth-consecutive year of tourism growth for Los Angeles. City leaders and Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board President & CEO Ernest Wooden Jr. made the celebratory announcement using a hologram created by Los Angeles-based VNTANA, the leading provider of premium mixed reality experiences, at a special gathering of L.A.’s tourism and hospitality community.

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Bahrain roadshow ropes in Indian MICE agents

A treasure trove of ancient sites and urban entertainment, Bahrain offers a cornucopia of pleasures that would delight an Indian tourist.  From camel rides and boat rides to motor sports and indoor skydiving, the Pearl of the Gulf packs in a memorable experience for the discerning Indian traveler.

Bahrain Tourism & Exhibition Authority (BTEA) recently conducted a roadshow in Chennai and Bangalore to rope in more stakeholders from India to promote MICE movements. The response to these roadshows has been positive as they witnessed participation from enthusiastic travel agents and tour operators from both cities.

Sunil Mathapati, Country Manager of BTEA, is optimistic that Bahrain will emerge as the most preferred destination for MICE movements.

“Bahrain has always been a three-nighter destination. Therefore, MICE is the right market for which we want to go. As Bahrain has all the elements required for the MICE movement, namely the hotels, venues, and activities, we are looking at tapping this market in a very big way,” he said. He added that as Bahrain offers seamless connectivity, easy visa rules, and luxurious hotels and venues, it would be the most sought-after MICE destination.

In an effort to rope in more Indian stakeholders to promote MICE movements, BTEA is planning to hold more interactive activities. “We ideally want to have a one-on-one meeting with MICE agents, understand their requirements, and answer all their questions, be it relating to a product launch or a conferencing facility,” he said.

The roadshows have been advantageous for BTEA as they served as a platform for tour operators and travel agents to know the destination better and understand what kind of experiences it can offer. The hospitality of the people of Bahrain, the support given by the ministry in terms of visas, and the luxurious facilities offered at the hotels and venues were discussed during the roadshow.

With its state-of-the-art-infrastructure, Bahrain is all set to host big weddings. “We have six weddings confirmed from October till April 2019,” said Mathapati.

Yousef Mohammed Alkhan, Director of Tourism Marketing & Promotion, BTEA, said that Bahrain has a good relationship with the Indian government. “We work closely with tour operators and other stakeholders where we see a potential for a lot of MICE movements. At the roadshow in Chennai, we received a lot of interesting queries. Besides wedding venues, we received queries on some proposals from movies from South India to come and film in Bahrain. We look forward to visiting more Indian cities,” he said, adding that a new exhibition and conference facility that encompasses 100,000 sqm of exhibiting space is being built. This facility will have over 30,000 sqm of convention and conference space. “This will be the biggest convention center in the region. We believe that we can house a large number of MICE groups coming to Bahrain,” said Alkhan.

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