Innovation takes centerstage at Asian MICE Forum

Speakers on stage at the Asian MICE Forum 2018, held from September 11 to 12 in Taichung.
Speakers on stage at the Asian MICE Forum 2018, held from September 11 to 12 in Taichung.

Asia is fast making headway in the US$752 billion global business events industry, if the tidal wave of mega events making their landfall in the region is any indication, with leaders emphasising the need to adopt innovative technologies to promote growth.

The region is attracting a sizeable number of association meetings, with five of the top 20 cities for association meetings situated in Asia Pacific, according to the 2017 ICCA rankings.

At the recently concluded Asian MICE Forum held in Taichung, convention and exhibition industry leaders in Asia shared a rosy outlook in attracting business across the MICE spectrum. The show attracted 420 participants, comparable to its previous edition in Kaohsiung.

Among the reasons cited were the push for technology and innovation in cities, the delivery of MICE infrastructure and venues, land connectivity and financial investments. 

China's growth in the industry, marked by mega trade shows like the China Import and Export Fair, which spans some 2.4 million sqm (or about 480 football fields) and sprawling new exhibition halls between 200,000 and 500,000sqm, are highlights of a rapidly modernising MICE landscape. The country now has some 11 million sqm of modern exhibition facilities in 148 cities. 

However, technology adoption in the events industry still lags behind, particularly for big exhibitions, shared Zhi Zheng, president of China City Association Convention & Exhibition.

Across the bridge, Taiwan's growth as a bustling innovation and manufacturing hub hopes to lure more international events, tapping on its expertise in the semi conductor, bicycle manufacturing and machine industries. 

As competition in the region heats up, Taiwan is looking to attract a larger share of the incentive business, eyeing travellers from Muslim countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia. It has a growing number of Muslim-friendly resultants and hotels, numbering almost 929. By year-end, the country expects to increase the number beyond 1,000.

India has also caught up in the race for space, welcoming extensive inventory with new centres in first and second tier cities. A uniform goods and services tax (GST) introduced last year has smoothen out a previously complex tax structure. 

Indonesia is gearing up to host events such as the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, which is expected to draw in 70,000 athletes competing in 40 sports and the IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali. 

With its petite size and limited land resources, Singapore will need to leverage on digital technology to stay competitive, shared SACEOS President Janet Tan-Collis, pointing to use cases of hologram technology especially at events in the medical field.

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