India has the potential to become one of the leading MICE destination globally and the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) putting all its efforts to achieve this goal, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, MoT, Govt of India, opined at the recently concluded 10th Convention India Conclave organized by ICPB at Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad.
Addressing media on the sidelines of the Convention, Billa said: “We need to have several state level or destination specific organizations which is promoting MICE in their respective areas. We need to create eco system to take advantage of this opportunity. And, there is no model better than Hyderabad which brings together the entire stakeholder at one platform and going overseas to pitch to bring international events to the city.” He opined that there is a need to replicate this model by other states and destinations.
Talking about the initiatives taken by the Ministry, he informed that the MoT has initiated the amendment in the constitution of ICPB to have clear vision to promote India as a MICE destination. “There is a certain legal process that needs to be done for the amendment of the constituion. We have already prepared the draft which is under legal vetting. Once it is through, we should be able to implement it and we hope the amended constitution will be in place this fiscal only,” he revealed. Delving deep into the amendment, he said there is an idea of having a corpus to help states/destinations to go overseas and bid globally. It will be as a kind of incentive such as giving complimentary gala dinner and such other incentives wherein Govt of India will support 50 per cent of incentives and remaining 50 per cent will be borne out by host destinations/states, he opined.
He was of the opinion that once this incentive is formalised, several states should come forward and form a dedicated Bureau. “The good thing is that we have a successful model like Hyderabad Convention Visitors Bureau which connects all dots to bring international convention to Hyderabad and the bad thing is this connecting the dots is not happening in most part of the country. Once we have states or destination level promotion board, MICE is poised for a great leap,” he said.
He also informed that the MoT is in the process of appointing a global consultant for the promotion of MICE. “We are looking at appointing a world class agency who can work on statistics and suggest what the priorities are and what is the roadmap we need to follow. We want agency to put all information at one place and create a clear road map ahead,” he informed. The agency will be working on the size of the industry in India, economic impact and number of meetings conducted in India.
Earlier, citing ITB report, he said 52 per cent of foreign travel happen due to MICE. “We need to tap this segment because when people travel for the MICE, they are staying longer, they spend more and one of the biggest impact it has is to fill up rooms during the off season. It is an opportunity that we cannot allow ourselves not to grab. As part of the game plan for MICE, While ICPB remains as the mother orgainsation, we need to have several state level or destination specific organizations which is promoting MICE in their respective areas. We need to create an eco system to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.
Delivering his speech at the inauguration, he said India is today the most robust economy to grow. “Last year, India has surpassed China as a country which attracts the maximum amount of Foreign Direct Investment anywhere in the world. India is able to reach out and grow exponentially from where we are. The ‘Make in India’ initiative has truly places India strategically in a position to leverage in those fields where we have not been before. Of all the centers that we are looking in the country as engines of growth of the economy, there is no other sector as well placed as tourism is. Tourism today contributes almost 10 per cent of the GDP and 11 per cent of the job in the country. It is environment friendly and take communities along. It is rightfully so that the Prime Minister has placed special focus and he always speaks about tourism as an engine of growth for the Indian economy,” he said adding that we need to do two things which are conditions specific. “We need to focus on cleanliness and safety. Security and cleanliness has been challenge for us. However, over the last three years we have taken several steps and initiatives and making considerable progress there. The second is that there is an enormous amount of infrastructure build up. We build approx 24 kms of road every single day in this country. We are building several ports under Sagarmala project. Regional connectivity Scheme of the Civil Aviation Ministry is an absolute game changer connecting tourism destinations directly,” he said.
Also, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned projects worth over 6,000 crores in the last 3 years to create tourism infrastructure. “We have never invested so much and so robustly into tourism. I think that the opportunity is all there. We fully realise that we need to push our marketing pitch in the global markets and take India at a newer level in terms of product recall from where we are. The most important thing is that we need to sharply differentiate our products and place them in the global market to attract people to come here. Of all the products we have, I think MICE is the best products,” he said.