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Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 12 : 41 PM [IST]

ICPB’s CIC brings the spotlight on India’s convention capital Hyderabad

Held in partnership with the Telangana Government to portray Hyderabad as the Convention Capital of India, the 2017 edition of the Conventions India Conclave was successful in showcasing the two leading MICE destinations of India – the state-of-the-art Hyderabad International Convention Centre and Ramoji Film City, to the domestic and foreign buyers. Though the turnout was better than the previous year, however the quality in terms of content, as expected from the apex body of MICE tourism, was missing. Akansha Pandey reports.

The 10th Conventions India Conclave (CIC) themed “Expanding the Boundaries – Mission Possible” at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) witnessed a delegate turnout of 317 including 13 foreign (USA, Moscow, Paris, Europe, etc) and 118 domestic buyers excluding 50 exhibitors. Both the MICE venues of HICC and Ramoji Film City stole the show and many first-time visitors to the city learnt about them in detail from August 29 to 31.

Chander Mansharamani, Vice Chairman, ICPB and Chairman, CIC 2017, exclaimed that CIC has gone to the next level with 40% increase in hosted buyers and the doubling of overall delegate turnout. “We were initially prepping to hold our annual event in Mumbai but as we shifted our plan to HICC, we only had three month’s time. In such a short span, we managed to handpick new and potential buyers,” he said.

Among the firsts, a 2km-long Green Walk was organised on the second day of the convention where delegates sowed two plants and pledged to go green. Mansharamani assured that from the next CIC, plastic bottles won’t be used. “A beginning has been made with this ‘Green Walk’. Even the stage backdrop was jute-made and saplings were given as a token of appreciation to delegates. This will pay off in the longer run,” he asserted.

With MoT heading ICPB, the industry has high expectations and pinned hope on the association to play a much aggressive role. However, the event lacked sheen due to numerous reasons. Undoubtedly, ICPB couldn’t have asked for a better venue than HICC. Still the last years’ announcement of E-Business Visitor Visa and Group Visa for MICE visitors is still to see the light of the day. The change in constitution and opening of new chapters is again something that is being announced from quite a few months. All the exhibiting state tourism boards and above all, the Ministry itself, had no MICE specific brochures for buyers. Chairman, ICPB made a note of TravelBiz Monitor’s suggestion to have India Tourism MICE specific brochure. Over and above, the mismanagement of logistics also disappointed the delegates, especially media.

Last year, the foreign buyers weren’t even shown the host city. Thankfully, this year they were taken on a one day post tour around the city of Hyderabad. Speaking to TravelBiz Monitor, the foreign buyers said in unison that when so much of investment is being made to host them from far off source markets, an additional 2-3 day city tour or excursion to nearby destinations should also be included in their itinerary. To this, Mansharamani agreed saying that they will write to MICE players from next year onwards to come forward and host foreign buyers post the convention.

Addressing the inaugural session, Suman Billa, Chairman, ICPB and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, outlined that the constitution of ICPB needs to be amended. A draft has already gone for legal clearances and once we have it by the end of this fiscal, bidding for international MICE events can be ensured in 50:50 partnerships between the Ministry of Tourism and the State Tourism Boards. Tenders are also out to appoint a consultancy for ensuring industry size, economic impact and statistical research on MICE business in the country, he added. A bidding fund of INR 200 crore will be set up in the next three to four years and states with convention and visitors’ bureau will only be able to use it, confirmed Billa.

When TravelBiz Monitor asked him on the last year’s announcement at ICPB Convention on launching an e-business visitor visa and group visa for MICE visitors, Billa explained, “Security concerns can’t be compromised with. As Chairman, ICPB, I am always asking for more but things are not so simple for the Ministry of Home Affairs while taking such sensitive decisions. However, the medical visa, which brings a big group movement, has been brought under the electronic framework with revisions in the e-tourist visa. NITI Aayog recently recommended a relaxation of conference visa rules and has asked the government to contemplate on the possibility of launching an e-conference visa scheme under conditions. Hence we are hopeful of more relaxations.”

In the upcoming Tourism Policy Incredible India 2.0, we have cleared a media plan to boost MICE Tourism. This won’t be a mass advertising but a transactional one. BBC is already working to make a MICE special film, the creative of which is ready. ICPB is giving their wishlist on where they want to advertise, do their road shows and participate at events, shared Billa.

In his welcome note at CIC’s inaugural, Mansharamani confirmed that India stands 22nd globally and 4th in Asia in terms of revenue generation through MICE tourism. The average spend by a meeting traveller is USD 1,500 while a foreign tourist spends USD 600 on an average when he stays in India for four days. Moreover, as per industry figures, 85% of the conferences comprise less than 1000 people and such a requirement can be easily serviced by numerous cities and hotels pan India.

Going forward the association plans to open chapters in major metro cities and seek ICCA membership. Mansharamani assured that eight state governments (Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, etc) have become lifetime members of ICPB and post the change in the constitution of the association, chapters will be launched.

Highlighting the tourist offerings of the state, Azmeera Chandulal, Minister of Tourism, Government of Telengana, averred that in January next year, the state will be celebrating a three-day long Medaram Jatara Tribal Festival. The Minister also spoke about the scenic waterfalls, Laknavaram Lake spanning 15,000 km and 40-50 temples of Kakatiya dynasty showcasing great heritage value. Taking cue from the Minister’s address, B. Venkateshan, IAS, Principal Secretary-Tourism, Government of Telengana, informed delegates about the Numaish Shopping Festival being held since 1938 and the Bathukamma Festival which is celebrated by women for the well-being of the girl child.

K V Nagendra Prasad, President, Indian Exhibition Industry Association, started off by highlighting that the exhibitions industry is growing at a rate of 8% year on year and the exhibitions business in India is said to triple in the next five years. Sharing his views on multinational companies getting into the exhibition business, Ravinder Sethi, MD, Rogers Worldwide, asserted that digitalisation is complementing and not threatening the exhibition business ecosystem and human touch is here to stay.

Yogesh Mudras, MD, UBM India, too agreed that this business is all about face to face connect and technology will further propel the growth with elements such as pre-meeting tool and supplier contact exchange. He also added that today millennials are also attending exhibitions in big numbers and hence we need to think accordingly and generate required content. “We invest in content, speakers and host experts. Going forward, we aim to address challenges and get more tech-savvy. To further draw audience, we are trying to elevate the status of the industry and offer a smoother experience,” he shared.

Mansharamani outlined that Indian Embassies overseas must be getting queries to organise events in India. The government should play a bigger role in sensitising these embassies and India’s representatives in the foreign markets, he urged.
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