Developing and promoting the UAE as a lucrative MICE destination
Predicting the future of MICE in the GCC and the potential growth and opportunity areas
“MICE is a highly promising niche within tourism. Therefore, MICE should be the core of any business tourism strategy pursued by policymakers,” said Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International, at a panel discussion on ‘Developing and Promoting a Lucrative MICE Destination’ at the YAS Island Conference held in Abu Dhabi.
Voivenel went on to highlight the significance of the MICE segment and stated, “MICE is a highly promising niche within tourism. Therefore, MICE should be the core of any business tourism strategy pursued by policymakers.”
Others on the panel included Filippo Sona, director- head of hotels – MENA region, Colliers International, Ajay Bhojwani, managing director, MCI Middle East, and Nick McElwee, sales and marketing director, ADMM / Yas Marina Circuit.
According to Voivenel, “Our approach to MICE has to be different than other industry segments and key to that is coming up with new ideas and curated packages. What is needed here is to recognise the changing way in which the world is conducting business as well as identify the trends which are influencing global economies. Excellence, innovation, personalisation, flexibility, originality, competitive pricing and value-added packages are the key to succeed in this demanding segment.”
According to Hotelier Middle East columnist Martin Kubler, "MICE business is nice business — it’s potentially more profitable, because it’s not just room nights, but also meeting facilities, F&B, activities."
The regional Events and MICE business has reportedly been witnessing a growth rate of 5.5% annually in meeting attendance since 2000, led notably by the UAE market, followed by Saudi Arabia and Oman. Dubai is host to almost 27% of all events staged in the region. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, generates USD 700 million from its MICE sector and is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 7% to reach USD 1.4 billion by 2020.
Voivenel stressed, “The UAE is one of the safest destinations in the world and has set a great example in that direction. Geographically too it enjoys a strategic location between the East and West with over 2/3 of the world's population living within 8 hours flight from Dubai and 1/3 lives within 4 hours. The developments in terms of infrastructure, connectivity and facilities taking shape for Dubai Expo 2020 will further boost its global and regional positioning as a MICE destination.”