Beijing MICE makes a strong comeback

Large trade shows and festivals welcome physical attendees post-pandemic, a testament to rising demand and industry recovery.

In Beijing, more than 70 per cent of hotels have reopened for business, with growing demand from the MICE sector.
In Beijing, more than 70 per cent of hotels have reopened for business, with growing demand from the MICE sector. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/SeanPavonePhoto

Positive signs of recovery continue to emerge from the Chinese events market, with the sprawling Design China Beijing 2020 trade show taking place last week and the Beijing Music Festival (BMF) set to take place next month.

The four-day design event saw more than 15,000 visitors and 100 exhibitors gather at the National Agricultural Exhibition Centre, while BMF (10-20 October) will feature a mix of live and virtual performances.

As China continues its recovery trajectory, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism on 23 September led a forum, gathering industry heavyweights over candid discussions on new market ideas and opportunities moving into 2021.

Titled ‘Restart Travel, Together with Beijing’, Chen Dong, director general of Beijing Tourism addressed domestic and global groups and suppliers eager to restart business not just in Beijing but across China.

He highlighted that “fundamentals for the recovery of travel are still there,” and that key developments and events are pushing ahead as planned — this includes the opening of Universal Studios Beijing in May 2021, and the 2022 Winter Olympics.

On the hotel front, 70 per cent of hotels – that’s 343 properties – in Beijing have resumed operations.

“We recorded 70 per cent occupancy in August for all our hotels, and 380 hotels are [back in operation] today, said Becky Cao, VP of global sales at Marriott Greater China. The hospitality group is also expanding their footprint in China, adding more than 300 hotels in over 100 cities to the pipeline.

“In Q4 we see a larger scale of groups coming back to our hotel, and anticipate more conventions and corporate meetings will happen.”

Kris Van Goethem, managing director MICE, leisure & sport at Thomas Cook China, is also seeing a resurgence.

“Domestic MICE business is coming back, and more than 1,000 conferences are already happening. We have some hotels doing even better this summer than last summer," he said.

Goethem also believes that MICE will be the first sector to return, followed by sports and leisure.

“When the gates of China reopen [and] visas are out, I assume the business community will be the first to come back, since many people do businesses here. Leisure groups will be more hesitant, I don’t see them coming this year even if they can – quarantine rules will have to be totally abandoned first,” Goethem said.