MICE Tourism Examples: 14 Top Destinations
While the events of the COVID-19 pandemic severely limited MICE tourism, in the past year or so the number of people travelling for meetings, conferences, incentives and exhibitions have been on the rise again.
Spending in this industry is still not back to pre-pandemic levels, but plenty of major conferences and trade shows have taken place in the past 12 months, and business travel for meetings and social events is becoming the norm once again.
With all of these positive indicators, the MICE travel and tourism industry is set to make a full recovery and continue to develop in the coming year. But now the landscape has changed and what guests want from this kind of travel has also changed, presenting new challenges when it comes to choosing where to host these kinds of events.
With this in mind, in this article we quickly recap what MICE tourism is, what makes a good MICE destination, and then share some of the best examples of popular places for MICE tourism around the world.
In this article:
What is MICE Tourism?
MICE tourism is any kind of tourism related to meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions. It’s the convergence point of the events and the tourism industry and is also closely linked to business travel, typically involving trips where large groups gather together with a particular purpose or intention.
With meetings, this might look like company members having to travel from different locations in order to meet and talk in person. It could also involve travelling to a new location, away from the usual office, to meet with clients or stakeholders for a meeting, or just using new surroundings to help spark new ideas.
Incentives tourism involves travelling as a professional reward or to motivate employees or stakeholders. This might just be a gifted holiday or a kind of team-building retreat for some or all of a team.
With conferences, MICE tourism is pretty straightforward. The majority of conferences connect professionals from an industry that are spread out across a country or continent, requiring travel in order to reach the event. This is the same with exhibitions; these are held in a single location and guests/exhibitors are required to travel to attend.
The travel opportunities associated with the MICE industry are one of the reasons why it’s such a popular industry. Plenty of travel companies focus on providing products and services specifically catered for this sector, which has led to certain destinations being particularly popular for MICE tourism.
What Makes a Good MICE Destination?
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of what makes a good MICE destination is tourism infrastructure. Leisure travel and MICE business travel are very different, but both require a destination to set up for receiving visitors and have the necessary facilities to offer an enjoyable experience, from hospitality to attractions and activities.
Speaking of infrastructure, a good MICE destination needs developed transport systems that make it easy to get to and travel around. Ideally, visitors will have different options for arriving and departing from the location, and there will be a competent and reliable public transport system that makes it easy for guests to get around. This is particularly important for MICE travel and tourism as many trips are quite short and efficient transport helps to maximise the time available for work and leisure.
As well as a destination being set up for tourists, a good location for MICE business also has a selection of different event venues. From hotels and meetings to conference centres and theatres, destinations that regularly host events and therefore have the space to accommodate them are a very popular choice, especially when these venues come with recommendations and reviews.
A more recent factor that is impacting the popularity of destinations for MICE travel and tourism is how suitable a location is for remote working. Things like internet access, wifi availability and the number of coworking spaces are important to travellers that want to work whilst they’re away or extend their trip and work remotely for a while, and destinations that are geared towards this tend to be much more popular for hosting events.
The safety of the destination also needs to be taken into account when deciding whether it’s a good place for MICE tourism. We’re not just talking about the current political events in a country, but also whether that country is a safe space for people of all identities and orientations. MICE events should be inclusive, and attendees don’t want to be made to feel unsafe during their trip.
Finally, a good MICE destination is one that offers visitors value outside of the event that they’re travelling for. We’ve already talked about tourism infrastructure being an essential element of a location’s success, and the attractions and experiences on offer play a part in this. With ‘bleisure’ travel on the rise, destinations that have a lot to offer in terms of culture, sightseeing and activities are more popular amongst events or organisations that want to offer their guests a more rounded experience.
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The Best Destinations for MICE Tourism
You’ll find plenty of recommendations for the best destinations for MICE tourism, from personal recommendations to data-backed indexes of the most popular countries and cities for meetings and events. We’ve compiled this research below to share recommendations for some of the best places for MICE travel across the world.
Morocco is an African destination with a legacy of impressive hospitality thanks to the incredible selection of luxury hotels and accommodation around the country. Places like Marrakech and Casablanca are particularly equipped for MICE travel, with numerous venues perfect for conferences and meetings, along with developed tourist infrastructure and great transport options.
Duban in South Africa is a city that might not get as much tourist attention as Cape Town but is a place that is well-suited for hosting events. A key reason for this is that it’s home to the Durban International Convention Centre, which is regularly voted as one of the best event venues in Africa.
Egypt is a country with a legacy of beauty and history, and Cairo is one of its most popular cities that is a particularly good choice for incentive travel. Not only is it one of the country’s most equipped destinations for foreign travellers, but it’s also got some of Egypt’s most popular tourist attractions nearby, providing plenty of unique attractions for guests visiting for business travel.
Asia & Pacific
Singapore is known as being one of the most glamorous and developed destinations in Southeast Asia, making it an incredibly popular place for business travel and a real hub for events and conferences in this part of the world.
Not only are you surrounded by cutting-edge innovation, but there is a huge selection of different venues on offer that cater to all kinds of events, from large-scale trade shows to more intimate business meetings and socials.
Thailand is located right in the centre of Asia-Pacific, which makes it a great destination for MICE events in this part of the world. The country’s infrastructure is developed and reliable, the scenery is outstanding wherever you travel, and it is home to the famous Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
Vienna has recently been rated as one of the top European destinations for the MICE industry, with record numbers of events held in the city over the past decade. Not only is this destination rich in culture and full of history and beautiful architecture, but it’s also well-suited to MICE tourism thanks to its transport infrastructure, hospitality offering and range of venues.
Spain is often rated as one of the best countries in the world for MICE tourism, and Barcelona is one of the key locations that prompts this. The second largest city in the country, it’s got a fantastic cultural offering as well as beautiful scenery, but is also home to many famous global events, such as IBTM World.
Alongside Barcelona, Madrid is another top-rated MICE destination, voted as the World’s Leading Meetings and Conference Destination at the World Travel Awards in 2021. The city’s tourism efforts cater towards business travel almost as much as leisure travel, making it a location well-suited for meetings and events with the hospitality offering and venues available for visitors.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is one of the top destinations in the Americas for events. It’s filled with unique venues and is also known for its culture, food, and tourism infrastructure which makes it an ideal meeting point for visitors arriving from all over.
Costa Rica is another destination that is particularly popular for incentive travel, thanks to its development and status as a top travel location. But is also well-suited to the MICE industry in general thanks to its great travel links, sustainability efforts and infrastructure for healthcare, transport and the internet.
Las Vegas is an iconic destination that isn’t particularly known for its MICE offering, but nevertheless is growing in popularity as a place to host these kinds of events if you’re looking for a unique and memorable setting.
It’s also consistently voted as the best trade show destination in North America, and already has a fair amount of infrastructure that is suitable for events and meetings.
Dallas, Texas is known for its welcoming atmosphere, so where better to host an event than a destination that is so geared up for visitors? The city has been ranked as one of the top five American locations for conventions, with great transport options, many different hotels and plenty of large venues to choose from.
Dubai is a location that already has a reputation for being glamorous and innovative, so it’s no surprise that many choose this destination as the hub for their business meetings and events. It’s already home to a significant proportion of the events held in the Middle East, such as Arabian Travel Market, and has a particularly good selection of venues, hotels and catering options, all with a distinctive air of luxury.
Abu Dhabi is a key business destination in the Middle East which is one of the reasons that it’s a great MICE destination. As the capital of the UAE, the transport links to the city are brilliant, there are plenty of outstanding venues for all kinds of MICE tourism, and it’s already got a legacy for hosting significant events with the help of the Abu Dhabi Convention and Exhibition Bureau.
Find your top MICE tourim destination
No matter the kind of MICE events you have in mind, there are so many different options for destinations where you can choose to host. From cities known for their prosperity and innovation to classic travel destinations that are now catering to business trips as well as holidays, the above list is a great place to get started when you’re looking for MICE tourism examples of where to plan your next event.
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