With amenities for international tourists and businessmen, Bangladesh is fast emerging as a new destination for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions, abbreviated as MICE.
People involved in the tourism industry say Bangladesh has the capacity to host more MICE events by tapping its enormous tourism potential and by improving its status as a spot for visitors, particularly business travellers.
The country has workable infrastructure and organising capabilities to hold all kinds of events, including international conventions, exhibitions and sporting events, they add.
Having organised several international events, Bangladesh proved its capacity to hold MICE events. In recent times, it has successfully organised the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union assembly, Buddhist conference, Business Process Outsourcing summit in Dhaka and Pacific Asia Travel Association conferences in Cox’s Bazar. People from all over the world graced the events with their spontaneous participation.
Dhaka is set to host a tourism ministerial conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at the end of this year and the Asia Cooperation Dialogue meeting next year.
With an aim to attract more tourists and guests, authorities in Dhaka have arranged accommodation facilities with modern amenities for MICE purposes. Initiatives have been taken to add a further 2,000 rooms to the facilities in the next two to three years.
In addition to MICE facilities at hotels in Dhaka, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, there are a pretty large number of resorts with meeting and convention facilities in different parts of the country, including in Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar.
There are 80 convention centres of various sizes in Dhaka, many of which, if not all, have convention venues suitable for hosting international events. Also, there are very experienced and efficient event organisers, who are capable of handling programmes regardless of their nature and size.
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In recent times, Bangladesh has successfully organised the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union assembly, Buddhist conference, Business Process Outsourcing summit in Dhaka and Pacific Asia Travel Association conferences in Cox’s Bazar. The photo was taken during the 136th IPU assembly this year held at Jatiya Sangsad South Plaza BSS
MICE tourism plays a partial role in the shaping of many other national economy branches, such as transport, communication, trade, financial services, health, culture and sport-related services, while it only indirectly demands products and services of other sectors like agriculture, industry, construction and environmental protection.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, chief executive officer of Journey Plus, an inbound tour operator, said: “Given our country’s geographic location, I can certainly say that we have the scope to tap MICE tourism. Bangladesh will have to make good use of the potential because business people who travel to a country for trade purposes tend to spend far more time, compared with other travellers.
“Still, we have some challenges as there is a lack of adequate infrastructural facilities and resources to host big conferences. The challenges could be overcome if we can have some big designated venues.”
Speaking of Sri Lanka, Taufiq said the country had earned a huge amount of revenues from MICE business.
Sri Lanka is growing fast as a MICE destination, and local authorities are pushing ahead with a mega promotion drive to profile centres outside Colombo like Negombo, for instance, as a MICE destination.
Apart from Sri Lanka, Myanmar in 2015 announced its plans to establish Nay Pyi Taw as a MICE destination, having established a central organising office in the capital city as a “one-stop shop” for organising MICE events.
Raquib Siddiqui, a Bangladeshi travel writer, said: “To boost MICE business, Bangladesh needs to follow a three-step approach: assessing the MICE tourism ecosystem, devising strategies and fixing competitive prices to attract more MICE events, and forming a governing body for MICE tourism. If the authorities can ensure these fast and skilfully, the country has an excellent chance of seeing its MICE business increase sharply within the next few years.
“Bangladesh has a lot of things to do to become an attractive MICE destination, including building an image as a MICE destination, taking measures to promote MICE tourism, and creating a proper regulatory framework.”
Singing the same tune, Kazi Wahidul Alam, a tourism expert and also the editor of the Bangladesh Monitor, said the government and other stakeholders should work together to tap the potential.
Masud Hossain, managing director of Bengal Tours Ltd, said the government need to build a MICE city, where all modern facilities should be available.
A study indicates the annual growth rate in tourist arrivals in Bangladesh will go beyond 1.4 million by 2020, as Bangladesh can become a single destination like Malaysia, Maldives and Singapore.