Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism hosted a seminar this week at ITE HCMC 2016 to highlight their objective of Ho Chi Minh City becoming the next hot spot for MICE tourism in ASEAN countries.
The phalanx of key note speakers and presenters at the afternoon long seminar attended by over 100 delegates included acknowledged regional MICE expert Gilbert Whelan, CEO of Riverledge, USA pictured and other industry leaders and government agency speakers.
The seminar was intended to highlight the potential of the development of Ho Chi Minh City as the hub for MICE tourism to the region and the ability and potential of connecting the city to other regional countries and cities to buyers, media and the world markets attending ITE HCMC 2016.
The speakers shared their practical experiences in MICE, with discussions ranging from the ability of the region and HCMC to deliver to the sector and also issues related to infrastructure and in particular traffic in HCMC and the controversial issue of visa requirement for entering Vietnam, in particular from the USA seen as a significant barrier that needs to be removed.
The seminar also highlighted that the MICE business generally meant dealing with large numbers of visitors and the industry was encouraged to establish links with the services the MICE sector needs, including hotels, restaurants and transportation, with some speakers saying poor infrastructure and lack of policies by government holding development of the sector back.
The HCMC Tourism speaker said that the city had many advantages to fit with the MICE sector including nearly 120 three to five star hotels, with large convention facilities, the international airport, a dynamic economy and diverse tourism products, with MICE accounting for around 22% of HCMC’s international arrivals.
In rather stark contrast, Marc Townsend MD of global property firm CBRE said that the city lacked convention spaces, with even the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre and the city’s luxury hotels including Le Meridien, Caravelle, Sofitel, Renaissance and Intercontinental all having limited space for events, adding that only one of those properties could provide conference space for 2,000 delegates.
Trinh Thi Lan Huong of Vietnamtourism Co said that to promote MICE the authorities needed to join forces with relevant agencies and enterprises to work together to create policy incentives and new products for event organizers to bring more visitors to HCMC.
A majority of speakers commented that cumbersome visa procedures and traffic problems were a disincentive to MICE organizers bringing business to HCMC and Vietnam, with infrastructure and transport problems the tourism sector could resolve on its own.
The seminar closed with a clear message that while the region and HCMC had the potential to be leading MICE destinations, with significant volumes of MICE business currently being attracted, targeting the MICE business and succeeding in attracting greater volumes, will require greater cooperation between the industry, to ensure that targeting the sector is successful.
To check out the speakers’ presentations at the seminar click on the video boxes below:
An on location from ITE HCMC 2016 report by John Alwyn-Jones