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MICE tourism: Vietnam's lucrative “golden market” unveiled
Thanh Thanh 21:43, 2024/03/25
Vietnam's MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions) tourism has been undergoing a qualitative and quantitative transformation in recent years, according to experts in the field.

The number of MICE tourists has increased in the first quarter of this year, according to local insiders.

 Duong Lam ancient village in Hanoi's Son Tay Town is a favorite destination for foreign visitors to Vietnam. Photo: Bao Chung

From January to March, Ben Thanh Tourist is estimated to have conducted MICE tours for over 8,000 domestic tourists in two major cities of Hanoi and Cantho and other provinces of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Phan Thiet, Bac Lieu and Ben Tre.

Ben Thanh's inbound MICE services are also thriving. Tran Phuong Linh, director of marketing and information technology at Ben Thanh Tourist, said the company has organized MICE tours for foreign guests from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, China and other countries, with group sizes ranging from 200 to 400 guests.

In the first quarter of this year, we recorded a growth of about 15% in MICE arrivals compared to the same period last year," Linh said, adding, "Our MICE tourism market has performed strongly and exceeded the projected targets."

MICE guests make up a large part of Vietluxtour Company's customer base. In the first three months of this year, thousands of new guests were registered, resulting in a 35% year-on-year increase in guest numbers and revenues.

Tran The Dung, CEO of Vietluxtour, said that of the total number of domestic MICE tourists in the first quarter of 2024, 60% traveled by car and train, mostly on routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Phan Thiet, Vung Tau, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Tuy Hoa, and from Hanoi to Ha Long, Sapa, Ninh Binh, and Sam Son. The average cost of a domestic MICE tour is VND6 million (US$242.2) per guest.

Enhancing quality

MICE demand has changed significantly since Covid-19, according to travel companies. The types of services demanded have become more diverse, and the focus has been on optimizing the quality and maximizing the value and benefits of events and conference activities within travel itineraries.

Customers and companies are interested in integrating and updating technological features in MICE products. Therefore, companies are focusing on improving how to plan and design tours.

This year, Vietluxtour Company will focus on strengthening customer care activities and optimizing product quality to retain existing customers. The firm will increase marketing activities, especially online marketing, to find MICE clients in the real estate, banking and textile industries, which are predicted to do well this year.

The company will also increase its trade promotion activities by participating in trade shows and focusing on marketing to potential source markets, especially in Asian countries.

Linh of BenThanh Tourist noted that MICE tourism involves a large number of guests and the combination of various activities such as sightseeing, teambuilding, conferences, and gala dinners within a single program. Therefore, high-quality service standards are essential, she added.

She stressed that companies need to be well-prepared, in particular when choosing suppliers, infrastructure and venues. Building a team of experienced and professional staff to meet customer needs is also necessary.

To explore the golden market

  Australian tour operators visit One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi. Photos: Le Nam/ The Hanoi Times

MICE tourism has become a significant market, attracting interest and investment from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and China, among other countries in the region, according to the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism. MICE tourism generates six times more revenue than conventional tourism. In Vietnam, the model is also seen as one of the targets in the tourism development strategy.

Local insiders believed that Vietnam, as a latecomer, could learn from the experiences of other countries to help the segment become more professional and successful. This could be done by capitalizing on the existing advantages of natural landscapes, cultural heritage, and a rapidly developing hotel and resort system.

At the 4th World MICE Awards held in Germany in early March, two Vietnamese cities received recognition: Ho Chi Minh City - Asia's Best MICE Destination, Hoi An - Asia's Best Corporate Retreat Destination.

In addition, other representatives from Vietnam received awards at the event, such as Vietnam Airlines as Asia's Best MICE Airline and Vietravel as Asia's Best MICE Organizer. The awards show that Vietnam's MICE tourism reputation has been confirmed and made an international impression.

Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said that winning the "Asia's Best MICE Destination" award for the fourth year in a row is further proof of Vietnam's and the city's ability and attractiveness in organizing events and meetings.

Tran Doan The Duy, CEO of Vietravel Company, said that this prestigious award motivates Vietnamese travel companies to invest and strengthen their presence in the MICE market.

Vu The Binh, Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, noted that while many destinations are targeting MICE tourism, their services, which include accommodation, event organization and tourism products, are not sufficiently appealing. As a result, they face challenges in attracting long-term MICE guests and hosting regular events.

Binh recommended comprehensive planning for the development of MICE tourism to make it a lucrative industry. This includes encouraging investment through policies and building a network of high-quality accommodation, entertainment and shopping services to cater to large and affluent visitor groups.

MICE tourism is one of the strengths of Hanoi's tourism industry, based on its numerous advantages and potentials, with a range of luxury accommodation options both in the city center and on the outskirts, home to attractive tourism modalities such as cultural and golf tourism.

Dang Huong Giang, director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, said the city regularly hosts many national and international events, offering opportunities for the growth of MICE tourism.

"In order to make MICE tourism a strength of the capital's tourism industry, accommodation facilities need to work closely with travel agents to promote their services and develop suitable and high-quality products to attract large MICE groups from different countries," she stressed.

As part of its plan, Hanoi will prioritize MICE tourism and upgrade facilities and human resources to enhance service quality. The city aims to make tourism a leading economic sector by 2025. 

By 2030, Hanoi aims to attract about 48-49 million tourists, including 13-14 million international visitors, generating revenues of VND270-300 trillion (US$10.9-12.1 billion).

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