HCM City has the potential to become a leading MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) tourism centre in ASEAN, international experts said at a seminar held in the city on Wednesday.
Aims to become international MICE hub
The seminar, which discussed the unique strengths and sustainable solutions for developing MICE in the city, attracted 300 delegates, including international experts, travel businesses, upscale tourism operators, travel agents, hospitality companies and tourism schools.
Nguyen Quy Phuong, head of the travel industry department under the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said: “The city’s government and tourism sector should improve MICE services’ brand value and quality and promote HCM City as an attractive MICE tourist destination in the ASEAN region.”
MICE tourism brings higher economic benefits than other types of tourism as big groups of a few dozen to thousands of people from companies and corporations have long stays and spend more money than other tourists, according to experts.
The McKinsey consulting group said that about 17 per cent of visitors come to HCM City for working purposes, higher than the region’s figure of 14-15 per cent.
Nguyen Dang Thuan An, project manager for Outbox Consulting, said Vietnam had become one of the 10 fastest-growing tourist destinations in the world this year. “The city has great potential for MICE as well as factors to develop comprehensive MICE tourism,” she said.
In the first six months of the year, the city welcomed 2.7 million international visitors, with total revenue from tourism of VNĐ53 billion (US$2.34 million), up 12 per cent compared to the same period last year, she added.
Ben Wieglus from Informa Singapore, an exhibition and event organisation company, spoke about the benefits and values that the MICE conference and exhibition industry brings for the economy, society and environment.
“The city should highlight its unique features, such as special food, cultural activities and traditional festivals, and local enterprises should enhance international partnerships,” he said.
While MICE tourism brings added value to socio-economic and cultural development, it could leave a negative impact on natural resources, he said, adding that more research was needed on this issue.
Le Phong Tran, inbout director for Fiditour, urged the city to present its image as a friendly, attractive and safe destination through advertisements and promotions.
“The city’s MICE tourism needs to be developed well in the future, along with shopping, eco-tourism and cultural tourism,” he said, adding that tours should be focused on culture, history, entertainment, cuisine, golf, ecology, spa and shopping.
In addition, more research is needed on how best to approach the training of human resources and investment in new tourism products and entertainment, as well as support from government and relevant sectors.
Scott Hodgetts, general manager of the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, said that authorities should enhance security to ensure safety for both locals and tourists, and promptly support them in case of need.
Many participants also mentioned the need to improve traffic infrastructure so that tourists can easily use buses or river buses.
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of the city’s Department of Tourism, said the city government had supported tourism growth with several intensive promotions, such as e-visa policies, which had created better conditions for visitors.
The seminar was organised by the city’s Department of Tourism in collaboration with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and Informa Singapore Exhibition Company, within the framework of the 13th International Travel Expo (ITE) HCM City 2017, at the Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre (SECC) on September 7-9.
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