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American MICE buyers grow an appetite for Asia
Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, Orlando, June 19, 2014

DRIVEN by a recovering economic climate and stronger desire to venture into new destinations, US meeting and conference planners are showing a rising interest in Asia, according to feedback from buyers and exhibitors at The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition in Orlando.


Dirk Ebener, CEO of Marietta-based Global CIF, is keen to explore Asia as a conference and tradeshow destination for his clients that span across 50 industries, ranging from consumer goods to automotive to woodwork.


“Europe and Asia are our top two considerations. Americans are more familiar with Europe whereas Asia is often not the first choice, but it’s my responsibility to change that,” said Ebener, adding that he is interested in South Korea, China, Thailand and Indonesia in particular.


Similarly, Asian destinations are also reporting emerging interest from the US, although a majority are enquiries for events that will take place in the next two to three years.


“Our enquiries for 2016/2017 have picked up by around 10 per cent from the MICE as well as leisure market from the US,” said Mohit Chopra, director – MICE & special events, Travel Pals (India). “These companies are mainly from the medical, transportation and economic development (governmental) industries, primarily interested in Delhi and Rajasthan.”


“Over the past two years, we have seen a 20 per cent increase in enquiries from the US, mainly for the incentive travel segment,” said Wang Haichen, deputy director of DMC department at China Star, which is expecting a 120-pax group from US Siemens to Shanghai later this year.


“Political figures from the US have also drummed up meeting interest in China,” he added, citing former US president Richard Nixon’s grandson’s visit to China in 2013 as examples of high-profile events that raise the destination’s presence among American meeting planners in recent years.


Wang is also positive United Airlines’ thrice-weekly San Francisco-Chengdu service launched earlier this month will bring more inbound travel to western China and surrounding areas like Tibet.


Likewise, Alberto V Santos Jr, OIC – international operations, Rajah Travel Corporation, commented that the maturity of the US market positions it to explore “newer” destinations like the Philippines. 


Karem E Miranda, senior project officer, MICE and business development unit at the Philippines’ Tourism Promotion Board (TPB), agreed: “Americans have been to other places in Asia and they are just starting to know the Philippines. TPB started participating in MICE shows in the US three years ago. A lot of serious enquiries are for two to three years down the road.”

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