Vietnam’s MICE tourism expected to explode after COVID-19

MICE, a type of tourism combining meetings, incentives, conferences, and events, is evaluated as a solution to revitalise the domestic tourism market. Many tourism establishments and some destinations in Vietnam are also implementing promotional campaigns as well as policies to attract new partners and guests for the local MICE segment.

Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism, Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism
Vietnam’s MICE tourism expected to explode after COVID-19

Vietnam has emerged as a MICE tourism hub thanks to its advantages of natural landscapes and many attractive destinations and accommodation facilities that can facilitate many tourists, including some 5-star luxury resorts with beautiful beaches, suitable for events and teambuilding.

According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, the revenue from MICE tourism is about six times higher than from other types of tourism. Pre-pandemic, MICE tourists often have a 3-4 times longer stay than ordinary travellers and higher spending as well. On average, each European MICE tourist to Vietnam spends between $700-1,000 per day, while Asian visitors spend more than $400 per day. The number of MICE tourists coming to travel agencies were increasing from 10 per cent to 15 per cent per year up to 2019.

Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, director of the Institute for Tourism Development Research said, “Many international organisations predict that when all economic sectors are restored, MICE tourism will be one of the most developed tourism forms. Because companies, after a long period of inactivity due to the pandemic, will need to meet, exchange experiences, and promote investment.”

MICE groups at this time with a scale of several tens of thousands of tourists will bring a great source of income and promise to open a brighter future for Vietnamese tourism.

Nguyen Duc Anh, chairman of Vietnam MICE Club under the Vietnam Tourism Association (VTA), said that the plus point of MICE tourism compared to many other types is that it is less seasonal and can be exploited continuously during the year.

“MICE tours depend on business programmes and activities, which can take place continuously by month and quarter. In addition, for every event or conference held, there are additional tours for delegates,” he said.

According to Do Van Thuc, business director of Dat Viet Tour, many businesses often organise tours in the early months of the year to launch new operations and projects, while the end-year tours are mostly meant for commendation. Most foreign businesses in Vietnam also associate MICE tourism with team building to tighten internal solidarity and motivate and convey corporate culture.

Although the tourism industry is still facing difficulties as it cannot welcome international visitors, the potential of the MICE tourism market has stimulated local businesses to prepare new products and services for MICE guests.

Ngo Thi Nga, director of Postum Travel, said that this year the company will build high-end service packages with comfortable resorts and private spaces to organise MICE tourism. However, this year programmes will be shorter and combined with online meetings.

Meanwhile, the members of the Vietnam MICE Club are also designing more activities and experiences to stimulate tourism demand, such as tourism organisation associated with sports activities such as jogging, cycling, rowing, and others.

Seizing opportunities

Vu The Binh, deputy chairman of the VTA, said that MICE tourism has been serving large groups of tourists and requires high-quality services, so not all localities and accommodation establishments can meet the demand. “To develop this type of tourism, localities and business units need to have a strategic vision, invest in facilities, infrastructure, and upgrade services more professionally,” Binh said.

Moreover, to stimulate MICE tourism, most travel and hotel businesses are offering incentives and discounts for these target groups. Some localities have also issued special policies to attract tourists.

Danang is a model city when it comes to piloting such policies. The city has supported a budget of VND300 million ($13 million) to attract 100 MICE delegations to visit this year.

The leaders of the Danang People’s Committee will issue welcome and thank you letters, as well as arrange cars for groups of visitors.

Plentiful Options

A series of venues such as Ariyana, Furama, Naman Retreat, Sheraton Grand, and Grand Mercure Danang are also offering discounts and specials on facilities such as meeting rooms, accommodation rates, and free admission tickets, as well as transportation costs and reduced tour fees.

Some other localities with outstanding utility systems have gradually become favourite destinations selected by delegations.

In the north, Quang Ninh is considered a highlight of MICE tourism thanks to its heritage of Halong Bay and synchronous development of infrastructure with international-class resorts and hotels such as FLC Halong, Vinpearl Halong, Muong Thanh, Wyndham Halong, and Sun Group’s Quang Hanh Onsen.

In the central region, besides the traditional MICE tourist centre of Danang, Nha Trang, many other localities such as Thanh Hoa, Quang Binh, and Quy Nhon are also becoming prominent destinations for events and exhibitions.

This breakthrough comes from the synchronous infrastructure system, the beautiful natural landscape, and the system of high-end hotels and resorts that meet the rigorous standards of MICE customers.

In the south, Phu Quoc is the meeting point of many delegations thanks to its pristine natural scenery and diverse services, especially after the development of high-end hotels and resorts with conference rooms accommodating 500-1000 people.

MICE tourism could thus be a great opportunity to help travel units get out of the difficulties and finally recover from the pandemic. However, for this type of tourism to develop professionally and attract many tourists, localities and businesses not only need to modernise accommodation facilities but also train their human resources to be capable of organising events professionally – especially as Vietnam aims to welcome international tourists when the pandemic is globally under control.

Scott Hodgetts - General manager Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers

Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism, Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism

Since the border closed with limited access and most visitors are uncomfortable or forbidden to travel, there is a major decrease in the demand for MICE tourism.

However, as Vietnam has taken quick and decisive action to control the pandemic, MICE activities have been gradually reopened in the safest way and reshaped in their organisation. The pandemic forced event organisers to quickly adapt and implement new creative and flexible solutions and initiatives, such as hybrid and virtual events, and COVID-19 drove the application of technology and innovation into the guest experience quicker.

Currently, the domestic segment plays an important role to contribute to the sector’s growth during this period. We have created and promoted more unique packages and activities tailored for domestic demands. Even when the international market comes back to live, the domestic demand will remain a key contributor.

Driving yourself to a destination has become more popular during this period and could become a major trend as travellers feel safer and like organising their trip by themselves rather than booking with a tourism agency. From north to south, there are many highways which are now very conveniently connecting the large cities with smaller ones, especially with distances within four hours of driving. The most impressive improvement is the ability for more Vietnamese to be able to travel at affordable prices. People can now fly, drive, and take the bus.

Vietnam is considered an emerging destination for MICE tourism because of its convenient geographical location, natural landscape, warm climate, few natural disasters, cultural heritage, a good legal corridor, and the developed hotel and resort system with great international services at affordable prices. Vietnam successfully hosted several international conferences gaining high reputation globally. Since the country controlled the pandemic well, Vietnam is believed to be a safe country for business.

Furthermore, Vietnam needs to become not a one-stop tourism destination, which means travellers should want to keep coming back. Thus, we need to come up with different ideas, enhance inspired attractions with great activities around the city, and utilise what we must reinvent ourselves continuously in the MICE segment.

We are very excited that the government has a ramped up its plan to re-start international flights in three phases. This movement will certainly bring positive impacts to our business. A few infrastructure projects like the Long Thanh International Airport which will serve around 100 million passengers per year and the Ho Chi Minh City metro line will make the transportation systems become even more convenient and drive business forward. Also, Vietnam has been received large investments from South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and many others, with the according number of planned visitors increasing tremendously, which will contribute to the tourism sector’s growth.

As one of the leading MICE hotels in Ho Chi Minh City, Sheraton Saigon has everything a luxury MICE venue could offer to meet of both domestic and international traveller’s need for relaxation, workspace, and entertainment, including stylishly rooms and suites; genuine services; 14 versatile meeting rooms with over 2,500 sq.m of meeting and event space; five restaurants and bars; exclusive Sheraton Club lounge; an outdoor swimming pool, a fully-equipped Sheraton Fitness centre, and a business centre.

Brice Borin - General manager Mövenpick Resort Cam Ranh

Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism, Vietnam’s MICE tourism, COVID-19, MICE tourism

After months of slowdown, domestic travellers are excited to travel again, thus the inbound segment might recover faster than outbound travel, especially for non-air travel such as by cars and trains. We expect that 2021 will be the year of domestic travel recovery as customers’ confidence is restored.

At Mövenpick Resort Cam Ranh, we’re trying to keep things moving by adapting our strategies in response to group and MICE inquiries, besides our family and leisure segment. Our guests will be more cautious in selecting a destination and a hotel that is known to be a safe choice with stringent sanitation processes and strict adherence to local regulations.

We are glad that Vietnam has launched a clear vaccination plan and inoculated those people at the frontline. As a hotel operator, we have strong faith in the execution of vaccine distribution by the government and we are optimistic and believe in a brighter future for domestic tourism.

As the demand for travel and tourism starts to grow again, and the nationwide vaccination programme is well underway, we hope to restore travellers’ confidence with a shift towards staycations, leisure, public gatherings, and more meetings, seminars, and exhibitions in domestic destinations.

We’re pushing MICE in the upcoming months to promote Cam Ranh and Bai Dai beach as great destinations to organise teambuilding activities, gala dinners by the beach, wedding ceremonies, and other social events. Lots of interesting activities await our guests, from outdoor water sports, a beer house, multi-level pools, game room to karaoke, bars, and a club.

Most businesses are resuming operations in Vietnam. However, Vietnam’s Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long has warned of a possible new wave of as regional countries report a rapid surge of new cases and citizens have failed to implement the ministry’s preventive measures.

With strict health protocols, including testing and medical surveillance, we think it is mandatory for tourists who are entering the country to ensure the safety of citizens and that there is no outbreak of any kind.

Vietnam’s tourism sector is an important pillar of the country’s economic development. Many 4- and 5-star properties are set to open, and a variety of tours will be offered, such as cultural and historical tours, adventure tours, sea-based tours, luxurious vacations, and eco-tours.

Despite all the potential for the tourism and hospitality industry in Vietnam, some challenges exist, such as underdeveloped infrastructure in certain areas and a lack of professional know-how, especially after the impact of the pandemic.

However, the crisis could be an opportunity to rethink and rebuild tourism for the future. The Vietnamese government could drive the country’s economic growth and rebuild the tourism industry by developing infrastructure and hospitality schools, encouraging the development of resorts and hotels which have experience in delivering luxury services and facilities, local communities supporting domestic destinations and services, and an increased revenue for the local tourism sector.

Plus, we should have a proper urbanism plan for hotels and resort development, as well as monitor the number of hotels and resorts opening per year to match with the market demand.

Once we’re able to open borders, we can ease the visa process for more countries and resume international flights directly to emerging destinations which allow us to compete with well-known destinations in the area like Bali and Phuket.

By Thai An

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