Many tour operators believe that as Vietnam’s inbound tourism nears saturation, it’s time the country focused on events tourism, which has grown increasingly profitable in recent years.
Vietnam News Agency cited a number of industry professionals as saying that MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) tourism can bring profits as much as six times higher than conventional tourism.
They estimated that each MICE tourist from Europe spends US$700-1,000 per day and an Asian over $400 per day.
MICE travel to Vietnam has grown by some 20 percent every year since it first began in 2008, according to the report, adding that the tourism is mainly operated by big companies like Vietravel which offers team-building packages.
Major destinations include Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, plus the port city of Da Nang, the former imperial capital of Hue, and the beach town of Nha Trang in the central region, as well as the southern resort town of Phu Quoc.
A representative from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism also said that Vietnam has the potential to develop MICE tourism, especially in its three biggest cities: HCMC, Hanoi, and Da Nang.
However, travel companies said that potential has been compromised by deficient infrastructure and human resources.
Despite the advantages of the Vietnam National Convention Center in Hanoi and the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center in HCMC and an increasing number of five-star hotels, the country still lacks the necessary infrastructure to host big international events.
Speaking to the news agency, Nguyen Khac Huyen, general director of Hanoi-based Hoa Binh Tourist & Convention Company, said Vietnam also lacks the personnel capable of organizing high-caliber conferences and meetings.
Relevant agencies should consider MICE tourism as a big moneymaker so they can make decent investments into it, he said.
According to Huyen and many other tour operators, Vietnam should establish a MICE tourism association that can provide support for businesses like opening training classes, while helping them join together in bringing big events into the country.
Without the help, Vietnamese businesses don't stand a chance of developing to the point at which they can compete with foreign rivals, he said.
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