West Bengal warming up to MICE tourism

Warm hospitality, rich historical and cultural heritage, and developing infrastructure are reasons for growth

The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata. West Bengal is fast becoming a popular MICE destination.

KOLKATA - MICE tourism is gaining momentum in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal on the back of improved connectivity, the presence of several 5-star hotels and a "world-class" convention centre, say officials.

India has emerged as one of the preferred MICE destinations in Asia , and West Bengal plays an active part in it, they said.

The domestic market is very keen to hold conferences here given the infrastructure available, West Bengal Tourism Secretary Atri Bhattacharya said.

"Prospects for MICE tourism here are very good and word-of-mouth publicity is working very well," Mr Bhattacharya told PTI.

S D Nandakumar, president and country head, B2B and Foreign Exchange at SOTC Travel, said warm hospitality, rich historical and cultural heritage, best business hotels and developing infrastructure are the key reasons for the growth of this segment in India.

Mr Nandakumar said that MICE tourism has been gaining momentum in Kolkata, and the state's tourism board is also investing time and effort in developing it as one of the key conference destinations of the country.

The sprawling Biswa Bangla Convention Centre, which has several halls and other modern infrastructure, situated at New Town adjoining Kolkata, has already got 46 bookings for 2020, and is doing good business, Mr Bhattacharya said.

He said that the capacity of high-end hotels in the city and adjoining areas has increased to 5,000 rooms from 3,800 in just a couple of years.

"Known as the nation's corridor, Kolkata is a friendly, intellectual and vibrant city rich in culture and heritage and is being promoted as a favourable MICE destination," Mr Nandakumar told PTI.

He said that New Town, situated near the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, is gradually becoming a leading MICE destination of South Asia. Leading in infrastructure, it has IT, financial and educational hubs, he added.

"The West Bengal government is at present putting together a roadmap to increase MICE tourism in the state since it brings in a large number of tourists at one go," Mr Bhattacharya said.

He said there are several destinations to choose from within a distance of 200km for those coming in for conventions, to mix business with some sight-seeing.

The 480-acre "Eco Park", for example, is a wonderful place for those combining business with leisure and one can experience duo- cycling, boating and zorbing, which make for a fine relaxing experience, Mr Nandakumar said.

"Corporates are increasingly looking for collaborative and bespoke (customised) experiences. B-leisure is gaining popularity among businessmen," he pointed out.

"With increasing levels of stress at work, there has been a focus on wellness while on business trips. Wellness is one of the most important factors for a MICE itinerary and is a growing trend among such clients."

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