Asian nations revive MICE industry

 Wednesday, June 7, 2023 


As the demand for on-site meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) activities recovers following the pandemic, Asian countries are preparing their exhibition venues and marketing strategies to welcome international visitors.

Northeast Asia has shown significant enthusiasm, with South Korea’s Busan bidding for the World Expo 2030 and Hong Kong unveiling the West Kowloon Cultural District, a 40-hectare area designed to attract both leisure and MICE visitors.

In Taiwan, large-scale exhibitions have seen a surge in participation, including a 60% growth at Computex compared to its 2019 edition.

Jerchin Lee, Executive Director of the Taipei International Convention Center, highlighted the desire for people to reconnect in person after the pandemic.

Computex is expected to attract at least 30,000 foreign visitors from 126 countries this year, with around 1,000 exhibitors at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center.

In 2019, Taiwan’s MICE industry was worth US$15.6 billion, generated by 314,000 business travellers attending 291 international conferences and 284 exhibitions in the country.

Lee, who is also a co-leader of the Meet Taiwan Project, stated that Taiwan aims to strengthen its MICE industry without competing with its neighbours, focusing on promoting itself as a preferred destination.

While the majority of exhibition centres in Thailand and Singapore are privately owned, 80% of Taiwan’s venues have government investment and are operated by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA), a non-profit government co-sponsored trade promotion organisation.

Taiwan is planning to open new exhibition centres in Taichung next year, followed by another project in Taoyuan.

Rosa Liu, director of the Taiwan MICE Project Office under the Economic Affairs Ministry, emphasised the country’s focus on promoting itself as a destination, offering unique attractions, experiences, and activities.

Taiwan joined the Asia Convention Alliance in 2021 to foster business-sharing and knowledge exchange with Thailand, Malaysia, and Seoul.

Liu highlighted that congresses or conventions usually rotate to a new location every year, providing equal opportunities for each destination to host events.

In this partnership, organisations can share knowledge on handling specific requirements to deliver impressive services.

Rather than replicating successful European trade shows, most international exhibitions in Taiwan are homegrown presentations showcasing the country’s key industries, such as semiconductor and ICT companies that have achieved global recognition.

TAITRA manages more than 30 international exhibitions per year in various sectors. They create their own exhibitions to be platforms for local industries or manufacturers, said Liu.

Grace Chen, Deputy Executive Director of Nangang International Exhibition Center, noted that Taiwan’s average venue rental cost is in the middle among 12 Asian countries with exhibition halls.

By having city governments invest in MICE facilities, rental prices are consistent across all sites in Taipei, including the Taipei Nangang International Exhibition Center.

Chen revealed that the Taipei city government developed the exhibition centres in Nangang to attract the MICE segment and encourage leading technology companies such as AMD and HP to establish offices in the area, creating a complete ecosystem.

With large hotel projects and shopping malls under construction, Nangang is expected to help relieve congestion in the city centre.

Image: Taipei International Convention Center

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