Even as the Centre has been bullish towards creating infrastructure for holding MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions), which is also an initiative close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heart, India has less than one per cent share in the global MICE business, despite being one of the fastest growing economies.Among the main reasons for the poor performance of India in MICE tourism is lack of focused approach on MICE tourism, a high-level Parliamentary panel in its report presented during the recently concluded special session of Parliament has made this observation. This comes at a time when PM Modi opened the G20 Summit at Bharat Mandapam and also inaugurated a huge MICE infrastructure named ‘YashoBhoomi‘ in the national capital.
Bharat Mandapam and YashoBhoomi have been created by the Modi government as prime infrastructures for promoting MICE.
The Rajya Sabha Parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, in its report titled ‘Development of Niche Tourism (including Spiritual Tourism), Theme-based Tourist Circuits and Potential Tourist Spots’, in a significant observation noted that “India was ranked 28th with 158 meetings in 2019 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranking of countries. Indian cities are ranked poorly in the international ranking of cities by ICCA in terms of the number of international associations meetings”.”There are only seven cities of India in the top 475 cities, the topmost being Delhi at the 75th position with 37 meetings held and Ahmedabad at the bottom at the 424th position with four meetings. Even Goa, which is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, is ranked at the 307th position with eight meetings,” it noted further.
The committee also observed that as per the National Strategy document on MICE, India’s core MICE infrastructure and amenities are at par with most of the developed countries, yet, the main reasons for the poor performance of India in MICE tourism is lack of focused approach on MICE tourism, absence of system for capturing information about various national and international MICE events and preparing for winning the bids, high tax structure and costs and lack of standardisation of processes and services.
“Besides, most of the successful international cities have their convention bureaus to market and provide support to the organisations and associations hosting events whereas there are no city convention bureaus in India. Singapore, Thailand, UAE, China, Macau and Malaysia are already preferred destinations for MICE events in the region and India faces tough competition from these countries, it said further.
The committee further observed that the convention industry can enhance a city’s reputation and visibility.
Creating a marketing body to get more events will help, nurture and market the MICE investments in the city, it suggested further in the report.
“The committee recommends that the Centre may make all efforts to ensure that such MICE promotion bureaus may be set up in the six identified cities within a targeted time schedule to market and showcase the respective destinations as a favourable location for hosting business events and activities,” it said.
The panel also observed that there are about 80,000, 4 star and 5 star hotel rooms in approved hotels, which for a country the size of India, is quite insignificant.
“The total number of rooms in the city of Bangkok is nearly three times that of India. Adequacy of quality hotels can enhance the reputation of a destination as a suitable location for hosting MICE events, thus contributing to satisfaction of participants, repeat business besides word-of-mouth recommendation. Therefore, adequate four and five star categories hotel rooms would have to be increased, for realising the goals of MICE tourism,” it further suggested.
The committee also observed that connectivity, especially by air, is one of the important aspects that promotes MICE tourism.
“Since good international air connectivity reduces travel time and logistical challenges, the government should coordinate with the ministry of civil aviation to ensure that the identified cities of MICE destinations are well connected for international flights,” the panel recommended.