Vietnam: The next MICE tiger in business tourism ?

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When it comes to the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) sector, Singapore and Malaysia are widely regarded as the “MICE tigers” of the Southeast Asian region. Hot on their heels is another rapidly-rising economy in this region, Vietnam, which envisions emerging as a serious threat in the coming years.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), MICE tourism brings in up to four or five times more than other types of tourism, because this segment of travellers tend to spend more. This has made MICE a catalyst for development in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

Vietnam has also cast its eyes on this lucrative pie having played host to many big events such as APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) 2017, ASEAN Summit 2010, and ASEAN Tourism Forum-ATF 2009.

The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) has stated that Vietnam is emerging as a safe destination in the world and an attractive place for foreign investors. The country’s tourism sector is also actively looking into refining their infrastructure and services to improve their ability to host large-scale MICE events.

While the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh have been the obvious go-to destinations for corporate companies and business travellers to Vietnam in the past, cities in the central region such as Danang, Hoi An and Nha Trang are becoming increasingly affable choices.

In 2016, Vietnamese cities like Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh added to their array of 4 and 5-star international hotels. Nha Trang’s airport was also recently expanded to include more regional and international flights.

“Business travellers typically outspend the holiday traveller by four or fivefold. So we see plenty of opportunities in MICE tourism, and with the world economy getting back on its feet, there is a renewed demand for exhibitions, meetings and events. Vietnam has great potential in MICE tourism which we have to actively and strategically explore, in order to entice more international organisations to host their events on our shores,” said Vietjet founder and CEO, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao.

One way to do this, she adds, is to improve accessibility into Vietnam’s major cities apart from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, which offer greater unexplored natural beauty and cultural experiences for travellers seeking more authentic experiences in business and leisure (B-leisure).

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Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.