INDIAN buyers at The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition are seeing Eastern Europe and other less traditional destinations gain traction as MICE destinations for the balance of value for money and exotic factor.
“Asia is still popular for Indian MICE travellers but the destinations are almost ‘templatised’ while the US involves more distance and budget constraints,” said Subash Nair, director of Chennai-based Purple Aura, whose meeting demand to the US is dominated by software companies.
“Turkey and Greece are deemed good value for money and are building up as meetings destinations. This is driven by better air connections – Turkish Airlines has flights to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai while Emirates offers fantastic connectivity to Istanbul and Athens from India,” he added.
Similar trends are observed at Gurgaon-based Yexplore, according to chief explorer, Sachin K Bansal. “Eastern Europe like Prague, Budapest and Slovenia are gaining popularity as meeting and incentive destinations. We have seen 25-30 per cent year-on-year growth (for these destinations), and Slovenia has started tourism promotion in India,” he said.
“Corporate budgets have not increased, and Fortune 500 companies executives have been to Asia,” he added. Far-flung destinations like the Caribbean and Africa are also picking up as C-level incentive destinations, Bansal continued.
Meanwhile, CVBs in Central and South-eastern Europe are starting to show a stronger interest in the Indian outbound MICE market, although efforts appear to be in early days.
Martina Fundaro, representation North America of Prague Convention Bureau, commented that the East is a rising market for the Czech Republic, with India being “the top MICE market from Asia”.
Likewise, Hungary Tourism senior project manager, Alice Sipos, added: “India and China are the main leisure source markets from Asia, but MICE market from Asia is still nascent.”
Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau, which has been attending tradeshows in China, has plans to “conduct more research on India” to build upon the Turkish capital’s strengths as a congress destination, shared sales & marketing coordinator, Cagla Demircioglu.