Macau’s Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry has been one of the fastest-growing emerging sectors in recent years, the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) informed the Times in its latest update to the development of the sector.
According to IPIM, the industry’s development strategy of giving “priority to conventions” started to yield results from 2017, when the value of the local MICE industry grew to some MOP3.6 billion. This value represented 0.9% of the general rise in the value of all industries and was accountable for an almost 150% increase when compared with 2015, when the industry was valued at MOP1.4 billion.
To boost the region’s MICE industry, since 2003, the government has been investing significant resources in an attempt to cultivate “Macau-branded MICE Events,” such as the Macao International Trade and Investment Fair (MIF), the Macao International Environmental Cooperation Forum and Exhibition (MIECF) and the Macao Franchise Expo (MFE). These events have obtained recognition from the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) for their standards of quality.
But, as IPIM noted, the growth of the industry is not only related to government-hosted events.
The number of non-government meetings increased more than 75% between 2014 and 2018; growing from 861 to 1,520 and suggesting an average annual increase of about 11%. Private sector meetings accounted for a total of 93.1% of all meeting held in Macau last year.
The number of conventions and exhibitions held in Macau has also been growing steadily in recent years, reaching a total of 1,427 events with participants numbering over 2.1 million in 2018.
According to statistics cited by IPIM, the number of MICE events held in the region in the first quarter of the year increased by 49 year-on-year to reach 377. Extrapolated to the year-end, the total number of MICE events this year might surpass the 1,500 mark.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter, the number of participants and attendees at such events increased by about 20% year-on-year.
These figures together lead IPIM to assert that MICE development in Macau “is on the right track with steady growth,” adding that the results even “exceeded all expectations considering an overall slowdown in economic growth in the region and intense competitive activity [in the sector] within the Asia-Pacific region.”
Despite the promising review from IPIM, according to the 2018 Statistics Report released by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) there were a total of 39 accredited International Meetings held in Macau. This places the city 71st worldwide and 17th within the Asia-Pacific region by the number of accredited international meetings held.
Questioned on the major developments that contributed to the growth of Macau MICE activity, IPIM noted that one of the major factors was the “increased venue and accommodation capacity and with this a number of new operators actively promoting Macau as a MICE destination.”
IPIM also said that the sector had benefited from “greater accessibility with the recent development of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.”
This is a trend that IPIM believes will continue in the upcoming years due to new developments and venues scheduled to open soon.
As for the challenges, IPIM elected the need for “more MICE talent” to join the industry as well as “enhancing the competitiveness of Macau’s MICE practitioners” to create a “Strong Macau MICE brand.”