MICE which includes business meetings, travel incentives for employees, conferences, large exhibitions and events; is one of the fastest growing segments of the Indian outbound travel market. India is estimated to generate 6.5 million outbound luxury and MICE tourists annually by 2020, reinforcing the country’s influence as a key source market for MICE and luxury travel. According to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council, business travel spend is expected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2018 to ` 806.4 bn, and rise by 7.0 per cent pa to ` 1,589.7 bn in 2028.
Lubaina Sheerazi, COO, Bluesquare Consultants
Business travel plays an important role in the growth of tourism in any country. Knowing that India is a potential market for growth, travel and tourism businesses around the world are capitalising on India’s outbound MICE segment and introducing offers and incentives to attract more number of travellers. Travel agencies offer special rates and customised itineraries to large groups and business travellers. Some countries have announced visa reforms such as reduced visa fees, free visa, e-visa, visa-on-arrival as an incentive to many visitors. Hotel chains are specially constructing large ballrooms to conduct conferences while also offering customised services, special room rates, curated meals that cater to the requirements of business groups.
Factors that are driving outbound MICE from India:-
Proximity to India
Short-haul destinations from India are on a constant endeavour to develop their infrastructure and create unique attractions to appeal to India market. Middle East and Asia consider India among the largest source markets for MICE tourism. Dubai has been the most popular destination for trade shows and exhibitions and Thailand for destination weddings.
New destinations and better connectivity
Over the years, the Indian aviation infrastructure has witnessed many developments with revamped international airports and Indian airlines expanding their footprint to key cities across the globe, thus benefiting Indian MICE travellers to explore new destinations. Oman which is an exotic, adventurous, historic, geologically stunning country located just three hours away from India has been gaining popularity for MICE tourism especially due to its proximity to India, authentic Arabian experience, excellent air connectivity from major Indian cities, easy e-visa process and brand new international airport. Oman Tourism recently conducted MICE centric familiarisation trip to showcase the country as a luxury and premium tourist destination for all segments across MICE. Australia, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Croatia, Seychelles are among the newer destinations being considered for MICE travel.
Doing it differently
When traditional ceremonies are done differently, it only adds to the joy. Indians love destination weddings to experience the big day of their life at a beautiful location which also extends into a family holiday offering exciting activities. Countries that offer easy availability of Indian food, fast visa process, great hospitality and multiple luxury resort options have attracted Indians towards destination weddings. Cruise weddings as a concept is gaining popularity with couples tying the knot on luxury cruises, sailing away to exotic locations with a guest list of 400-500 people. Pre-wedding photo shoots at exotic locations is also a trend that is catching up.
Industry meetings, global trade events, business conferences and special seminars have always attracted global audiences. Such large events require huge spaces, expertise to organise and strategic planning which countries have consciously undertaken efforts to develop. Many destinations have constructed convention and exhibition centers to host large events and bring momentum to MICE tourism.
Business travel drives business growth
Business travel is truly an investment that drives great returns over a period of time. As businesses are on a global expansion, it is imperative for corporates to meet international buyers and sellers and to be seen at important global events. Also, incentivising employees to travel to exotic locations has been the strategy for many multinational companies to enhance performance.
Companies in India are realising the benefits that accrue to their businesses from organising MICE trips and Indians are now travelling abroad throughout the year for business. In addition to Indian corporates expanding their global footprint, business executives travelling overseas are incorporating work with pleasure by taking their families with them and extending their business trips for leisure. We expect the trend of MICE among corporates to grow even further. Awareness of newer destinations, better flight connectivity and cheaper airfares will drive the demand for outbound MICE from India.