The mainland is fast becoming a major MICE destination in Asia as the sector’s services and facilities continue to grow from the big cities to secondary cities. Ni Hui, executive vice-president of China Travel Service (CTS) MICE Service in Beijing, talks to Catherine Chan about the trends of the sector, key issues and challenges.
Q The success of last year’s World Expo and the Olympic Games in 2008 has proven that China has the ability to organise large-scale global events. How do you see the growth of the mainland’s MICE industry outside Beijing and Shanghai?
A Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Qingdao are experiencing extraordinary levels of growth, in part due to government backing, but they are also the regional headquarters for many Chinese and multinational companies. Tianjin has also played host to international conferences and exhibitions. Shenzhen and Guangzhou are also major growth providers for China’s MICE industry. So, while there may be room for improvement in terms of handling large-scale MICE events outside Beijing and Shanghai, there is no doubt that other cities provide a strong and growing component to the industry.
Q What are the major challenges facing the sector on the mainland?
A One of the major issues is that, while we have great hardware across China, there is room for development in terms of software. Beijing and Shanghai have a great deal of capacity, but for other smaller cities, the capacity for handling large-scale events is limited.
Another issue is the lack of an administration to set and enforce policies at the national level. The awareness of value is also key.
Q With a stronger economy and greater business influence, China’s outbound MICE industry is also growing. What are the key issues?
A The outbound volume is growing steadily, but there is still potential. Outbound volume to countries like Europe, the United States and Canada is always in demand, but things like limited transport capacity and visa restrictions mean that there is still room for growth.
Q How do you see China’s share of the MICE market globally, and what is your long-term vision for the sector?
A China’s market share in the global MICE industry is becoming important. Cost is one area where China can still provide exceptional value and competition. In the long term, the industry will move away from a largely logistics-based sector, towards greater emphasis on concept design and [sophisticated] exhibitions.