MICE tourism: a huge opportunity for Vietnam
Known as the non-smoke industry, the tourism sector has expanded and now presents opportunities for enterprises to find appropriate partners, develop their business or expand within the market.
MICE is rapidly developing in Vietnam and has become a rising trend in recent years.
MICE tourism-or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events-is tourism that combines these four elements. These days it is common for enterprises to book MICE tours for their partners or employees as an incentive.
With many elements combined, making them suitable for a diverse range of people, tourists on MICE tours often travel together in big groups with a longer length of stay and higher consumption than small groups of tourists on other trips. MICE tourism can significantly contribute to the national economy, especially in developing countries.
A survey indicates that on average, every year, there are more than 5 million meetings, conferences, and events in the world with consumption of up to US$7 billion.
The US holds the most meetings, conferences and events in the world. In Southeast Asia, Singapore and Thailand are two countries that have been successful in developing MICE tourism.
It is estimated that on average, tourists on MICE trips in Europe generate US$700-1,000 per day, while in Asia, this figure is closer to US$400 per day.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, in 2014, Thailand held 103 international commercial exhibitions, and numerous commercial trade fairs, which gathered various booths in the fields of agriculture, food, automation, healthcare, and infrastructure. Also in that year, Thailand welcomed 2,460 guests from Vietnam, ranking the country fourth in terms of the number of visitors coming to these exhibitions and trade fairs.
On average, consumption of tourists on MICE tours in Thailand is three times higher than on other kind of tours. The Thai authorities as well as travel agents are offering promotions with the aim of attracting more clients to other smaller MICE destinations. These promotions include discounts on flights and packages of activities such as visiting organic farms, taking part in cooking class to learn Thai recipes and beach activities.
The lion city of Singapore has plenty of advantages to become a centre of MICE tourism in Southeast Asia. The city is easy to navigate and travel around with good traffic and transport systems and international standard infrastructure.
Since its introduction in 1990, MICE tourism has been readily welcomed as this form of tourism is suitable for the tourism environment in Vietnam. The country has hundreds of famous attractions and relics, and numerous sizable and modern resorts have been constructed to catch up with the fast growth of MICE tourism.
Secondly, Vietnam has a stable political system, which is a favourable condition for holding important events and conferences. Vietnam has the experience of hosting many big events such as APEC 2017, ASEAN Summit 2010, ASEAN Tourism Forum-ATF 2009 and the 18th Global Women Summit. Of all the foreign countries which have chosen Vietnam as their MICE tours’ destination, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and Malaysia have contributed the most to the growth of MICE tourism in Vietnam, and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are currently the most attractive cities for MICE tours.
According to statistics of 2017 from McKinsey, 17% of tourists travelled to Ho Chi Minh City for business. This figure is 14-15% higher than in other regional countries.
Meanwhile, Hanoi is the economic, political and social centre of Vietnam, so major important international or national events are often held in the capital. Other MICE destinations include cities or provinces with good infrastructure, beautiful landscapes and fresh air such as Halong, Danang, Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, Vung Tau, and Phu Quoc.
Although MICE tourism has more specific requirements and higher standards, it also brings about higher revenue, 4-5 times higher than other common kinds of tourism. Thus, promoting MICE tourism is becoming a top priority for many travel agents.
A representative of Vietravel said that the number of MICE tourists accounts for 60% of the company’s total customers. In particular, the number of international and domestic tourists account for 37 and 63%, respectively. The number of tourists on a MICE tour of Vietravel may be in the hundreds; sometimes, this number rises to thousands. What they need most is professionalism and high level services. For MICE tourists, price is not as important as service quality and creativity.
Nguyen Cong Hoan, deputy general director of Hanoi Redtours, said that MICE tours are rising in both quantity and quality.
“Previously, a group of tourists on an incentive tour or MICE tour spent 95% of their budget on hotels, food, flights and other essentials, and only 5% on other activities. However, currently, there are some tours with 95% of the budget spent on MICE activities. Some of our customers pay up to VND1 billion (US$44,000) for a MICE tour, and of the total, VND500-600 million (US$22,000-26,400) is spent on MICE activities such as galas and conferences,” Hoan said.
Talking about the potential of MICE tourism in Vietnam, in the 2017 AKEI Road show in Hanoi: Growing through Partnership, Lee Hongyu-chairman of the Association of Korea Exhibition Industry (AKEI), insisted that many enterprises of the Republic of Korea have shown interest in MICE tourism in Vietnam, especially with Vietnam having more and more fast-growing cities and provinces with better tourism infrastructure.
“I see that most enterprises of the Republic of Korea are keen on Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang. They will be our top priority when we hold more trade fairs and exhibitions in the upcoming time,” Lee said.