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.”
What India can learn from Thailand’s growing MICE industry
TCEB is embarking on key projects to reach out to all target groups.
Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization) or TCEB unveiled Thailand’s MICE industry performance during the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019. The result underscores Thailand’s position as a leading MICE destination in the region with a total of 6,653,524 MICE travelers generating over 42,525 million baht in revenue to the country. The statistics also show a jump in the growth of international exhibitions while countries like China and India remain the top market for international MICE travelers in Thailand.
Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya, President of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (Public Organization) or TCEB, revealed that Thailand welcomed 241,407 international MICE travelers in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2019 (October – December 2018), representing 2.48% of the country’s inbound travelers recorded in the same period. Those MICE travelers generated 18,031 million baht in revenue to the county, while the top three categories of expenditure, spent by MICE travelers, were accommodation, food & beverage, and shopping.
“Of those major sectors in MICE, the exhibition sector demonstrated an outstanding performance with numbers of travelers increased by 60.66%. The growth was supported by key factors including positive trends in the global economy, while MICE travelers continue to show confidence in Thailand reflecting the government’s efforts to stimulate business activities and travel sector.
The waiver on visa-on-arrival fee, effective since November 15, 2018, has been attracting travelers from target markets such as China, India, and Malaysia. Furthermore, Thailand’s business climate enhances the growth of air travel and boosts the expansion of airline services between Thailand and destinations in ASEAN. Also, an improvement of airlines and airport operational efficiency lead to an increase in capability to serve fast-growing numbers of travelers”
According to the latest statistics from TCEB, top five markets of international MICE travelers for Thailand in Q1 were China (85,498 travelers), Laos (29,547 travelers), Malaysia (21,352 travelers), Indonesia (21,051 travelers), and Japan 19,205 (travelers) respectively. Asia has been the biggest MICE market for Thailand with an advantage from short-haul flights within the region, while the Thai government has been implementing numbers of measures to attract international visitors such as the waiver on visa-on-arrival fee.
In term of MICE events, there were a total of 275 international MICE events held in Thailand during Q1. Those events were 37 Meetings, 153 Incentive events, 16 conventions, and 19 exhibitions. The numbers of incentive events occupied more than 50% of the total international MICE events held in Thailand. Most of the activities, or 82.18%, were held in the central region of Thailand especially in Bangkok, Pattaya, and Chonburi. The statistics reflect MICE capability in those key MICE cities including MICE venues where many of them are certified by the Thailand MICE Venue Standard (TMVS), a wide variety of meeting facilities, travel convenience, and post-tour activities. Followed the central region, 9.09% of MICE events were held in the southern region of Thailand while 6.18% were held in the northern region.
In term of the domestic MICE market, there are 6,412,117 local MICE travelers generated 24,494 million baht in revenue to the country. Top five domestic MICE destinations were Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket, and Khon Kaen.
Chiruit added about the highlight performance in Q1, in term of marketing promotions and MICE industry development following 3 goals of Thailand MICE strategic plans are:
Revenue Generation: TCEB has provided the event supports (through biddings and subsidies) to 119 of international MICE events organized in Thailand. These events include the 2018 Sunhope Thailand Incentive Group attracted more than 10,000 delegates from China, the BNI Global Convention 2018 attracted more than 4,000 delegates; over three decades held in the US while TCEB successfully brought the event to Thailand for the first time, and Future Energy Asia 2018 attracted more than 8,000 delegates.
Income Distribution to Local Community: TCEB has provided supports and subsidies to 9 of domestic events including the new events and existing events. These events include the 33rd Annual Academic Meeting of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists held in Chonburi Province, the RICE Expo 2018 in Roi Et Province, and the InDoi Festival held in Chiang Rai Province. The latter were held under TCEB’s MICE City strategy aiming at promoting Chiang Rai into the city of learning for excellent service management and the center of Royal projects in the northern region. Besides, TCEB has provided supports to 8 events enhancing MICE markets from the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS/CLMV/SEZ) which include meeting activities of Prudential Life Insurance from Vietnam, and Armo Fertilizer from Myanmar.
MICE Development through Innovation: TCEB has organized the 7th Special Meeting on ASEAN MICE Venue Standards (AMVS) and the MICE Intelligence and Innovation Conference. Also, the bureau has offered facilitation via MICE Lane Service for international MICE travelers who attended 45 events in Thailand.
For the fiscal year 2019, TCEB continues to propel Thailand’s MICE industry through the bureau’s operational guidelines strategically planned in accordance with the government’s 20-Year National Strategy. Key drivers are Strategy No.2 “Boosting Capacities and Competitiveness” and Strategy No. 6 “Maintaining balance and development of processes in the management of government affairs.” TCEB places a focus on people-centric MICE management through equally integrated and transparent works. By driving the industry towards achieving the goal of the national strategic plan, TCEB encourages development and distribution of MICE activities through strategic focus areas on MICE Cities (Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai, and Khon Kaen) and second-tier cities. Besides, TCEB is embarking on key projects to reach out to all target groups. These projects are:
- The development of MICE routes: TCEB is working closely with strategic partners including the Incentive and Convention Association (TICA), the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (DASTA), as well as MICE venue operators to develop 25 MICE routes in five MICE cities and expand to five second-tier cities for at least 50 new MICE routes across the country.
- The development of MICE education under the “MICE Academic Cluster” project: TCEB enhances this collaborative platform through a network established with leading educational institutions in five regional clusters, namely Khon Kaen University, Chiang Mai University, Silpakorn University, Prince of Songkla University, and Dusit Thani College.
- The development of MICE models and operational plans for five MICE cities: The project has been conducting through the collaboration with provincial authorities, the government agencies, and MICE entrepreneurs.
- The “MICE for Community” project: TCEB joins hands with the Cooperative Promotion Department to promote co-op centers as venues for MICE. Initially, 35 co-ops have been selected while the project intended to expand to 100 co-ops across the country to generate greater local benefits and distribute income to local communities.
- The competition of regional MICE promotions: The project has been conducting through TCEB’s partnership with educational institutions of senior management, university network, and alliances from the private and social enterprise sectors.
- The marketing promotion for more MICE events in 10 targeted industries under Thailand’s 4.0 policy: The project has been conducting through TCEB’s partnership with public and private sectors including Thai Team in MICE sector both in Thailand and overseas such as the Royal Thai Embassies, Tourism Authority of Thailand, trade associations, federations, chambers of commerce, and airlines including Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways.
- The development of MICE Intelligence and Innovation: TCEB has been joining hands with key public and private organizations such as the National Innovation Agency (Public Organization) or NIA and the Office of Contemporary Art and Culture (OCAC).
- The public hearing on TCEB’s integrity and transparency for promoting MICE industry: TCEB works closely with MICE entrepreneurs across the country.
“Through these key projects implemented under the bureau’s operational frameworks for the fiscal year 2019, TCEB will be able to reach out to target markets in all areas. Also, TCEB is confident that Thailand will be able to welcome 35,982,000 MICE travelers with generating MICE revenue of 221,500 million baht projected for the country. Of those figures, we expect to see 1,320,000 international MICE travelers with projected revenue of 100,500 million baht and 34,662,000 domestic MICE travelers with projected revenue of 121,000 million baht,” said Chiruit.
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%.
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 chi, wing 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.
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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