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The concept of MICE tourism is nothing new around the world. The estimated Global market size for MICE tourism was in excess of USD 808 Billion in 2017 and it is going to touch 1200 billion in 2025 years. But this concept is yet to be well practiced in Bangladesh. The very word, ‘MICE’ is a combination of four letters, ‘M’, ‘I’,’C’ and ‘E’. Here ‘M’ represents ‘Meetings’, ‘I’ represents ‘Incentives’, ‘C’ represents ‘Conferences’ and ‘E’ represents ‘Exhibitions/Events’.
‘MICE’ is a type of tourism in which large groups, usually planned well in advance, are brought together. It is focused around the planning and booking of groups for large events, conferences or seminars. ‘MICE’ is also referred to as ‘Meetings or Events Industry’. Planning for a MICE event can begin years in advance. Sometimes the most prestigious locations are required with the most incredible catering and accommodation requests, top class entertainment or activities for the attendees.
Meetings are the formal gathering of people who are employees and professionals to conduct a business activity or for formal discussions sometimes combined with informal activities. Some forms of meetings are board meetings; annual general meetings or AGMs; management meetings; training or on board meetings; meetings with associates, partners, suppliers, dealers, etc. It also can include product launches and team building meetings.
Incentives are the different part of MICE and type of meetings where the purpose is not business but leisure. Incentive events are fun and leisure tours and trips planned for the employees, staffs or for the associates and even sometimes for the customers as a reward or recognition for their contributions or support. Usually it includes a group travel with hotel stay, local travel, dinners, fun & recreational activities, and more.
Conferences are also termed as conventions that forms meetings but with wider and higher number of participations. This participation is usually not limited to one company or organization. This type of meetings can last for few days and are often organized by professional or industry bodies and associations. In maximum cases these types of conventions may include small exhibitions also.
Exhibitions are largely a wide scale gathering of buyers and sellers. Here sellers exhibit their products, services, new launches and even information related to these. The buyers are the visitors who visit to buy or know about new products, services or launches, and also to explore new markets.
MICE tourism has multiplier bearing to economy in terms of accommodation, travelling, communication, advertisement and remuneration to skilled work force. Normally the participants in the MICE tourism are either rich or their company/organizations are reimbursing the overall expenses. So a conference traveller, on an average, spends more in comparison to an inbound leisure traveller staying for the same duration.
Scope for Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in MICE Tourism
CHT has a variety of MICE friendly locations which can be converted with diverse tourism. There are number of tourist spots in all three hill districts of CHT. All three districts have a good support facilities to hold successful conferences and exhibitions. Already a good number of standard hotels and resorts with all required business facilities have been established in CHT. Besides the enormous natural beauty in all three hill districts; Rangamati, Khagrachari, and Bandarban; the hotels and resorts established in the remote places like Sajek, Nilgiri, Thanchi, Alikadam, Kaptai might become the suitable venues for MICE tourism. There might be floating arrangements of on board conventions in the Kaptai Lake also. Moreover, Bangladesh, to be specific CHT will definitely have price competitive offerings in comparison to other Asia pacific centers.
How to promote MICE tourism in CHT?
Japan has established a research institute to promote MICE tourism. It has also been done to fulfill social responsibility by harnessing expert strengths and experiences to respond to the demand for more in-depth surveys and research spanning the multi-faceted MICE business, as well as strong consulting capability, which led to the establishment of this think tank specializing in the MICE industry. Bangladesh government may think of establishing such research institute for promoting MICE tourism. At the same time the tourism ministry may take initiative to motivate the local entrepreneurs to develop this sector in different forms through exhibitions, fairs and festivals, competitions etc. There might be extensive promotion offers for the potential initiative holders. However, there is no short cut of modernization of facilities and equipment to cope up with the changing trends. The existing infrastructures located in CHT need to be upgraded to the capability of arranging world-class conventions and exhibitions as a part of MICE tourism.
Researcher, Regional Politics and CHT