By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Macau is making attempts to develop its meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry but a mainland expert said some of China’s social organisations were reluctant to hold events in the territory because they have encountered a number of “difficulties” in doing so.
Conference director of the China International Conference Centre for Science and Technology, Wu Shaoyuan, told reporters in Macau yesterday that the survey he conducted recently showed that 28 percent of the about 50 interviewed non-governmental organisations in the mainland said they have no intention of holding conferences in the SAR due to “certain difficulties”.
The remaining 72 percent said they had intentions to organise meetings in Macau, but also cited the same difficulties, Wu disclosed on the sidelines of the “World MICE Economy and Macau Development” International Academic Symposium.
The expert pointed out that the main issue was that Chinese associations were “not familiar with the actual economic situation of Macau, despite being aware of the large number of hotel rooms available”.
“They also hoped there would be funding from the SAR Government to support the events, and it’s still not very convenient for China’s MICE personnel to get visa endorsements to enter Macau,” Wu said.
However, director of the Macau Economic Services (DSE) Sou Tim Peng revealed yesterday that the Macau Government will “continue to support the MICE industry through different policies and reinforce regional cooperation under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement [CEPA]”.
Plans include facilitating visa endorsements for China’s MICE enterprises and personnel, as well as to hold “large-scale and influential meetings and exhibitions in Macau,” Sou added.
Meanwhile, Wu said it’s important that the Professional Conference Organisers (PCOs) and Destination Management Companies (DMC) have the capabilities to support large-scale MICE events.
“In China many conferences are held with over 10,000 attendees in addition to tens of thousands of square metres of exhibition area. Can Macau handle these types of events?” he added.
Moreover, Wu believes that the SAR government should launch a website to allow those interested in holding events in Macau access to all-MICE-related information and news in the city.
Nevertheless, from a general point of view, Wu believes Macau’s biggest challenge is a lack of resources.
“Macau’s resources are limited and therefore it’s not easy for the city to successfully bid for large-scale international conferences to be held locally. There is also no specific department or authority responsible for applying to become the host city of these types of events,” he said.
Key to diversification
On the other hand, special advisor to the Department of Chinese Business of Deloitte, George Koo, said in the symposium that he agreed, “the most logical way to diversify Macau’s economy is to greatly expand the convention and exhibition business”.
Koo suggested the SAR Government launch a “brand Macau initiative in the global market and increase world awareness of the desirability of Macau as a destination”.
The University of Macau, he said, “obviously” needs to become the venue for MICE-related degree programs that would qualify local people for “careers and management positions” in the industry.
Rules and regulations that would facilitate “the movement of people and goods from anywhere in the world into and out of conventions and exhibitions held in Macau” are also necessary, according to Koo.
“Another major responsibility of the SAR Government is to lay out and implement a master plan to improve its infrastructure to facilitate tourism and convention participation,” he added.
Furthermore, the expert stressed that the potential for the territory to become a “great international venue” does exist, but its people and government “must appreciate that in order for Macau to grow and expand, the city will need to supplement the limited supply of locally produced talent with outsiders that can contribute to the development and diversification of Macau’s economy”.
The one-day symposium at the Venetian Macau was organised by the Association of Former Diplomats of China, Art Concept Culture Institute and the Katie Chan Foundation.