The rapid expansion of China's MICE market has become a key driver of lodging demand across China. Since MICE demand can provide relief for seasonal dips, many hotels are benefiting from gains in this sector.
Based on the latest available data from the International Congress and Convention Association, China's international meeting market grew at an annual average rate of 12.8 percent between 2000 and 2009. In 2009, China accommodated 245 international meetings and ranked ninth in the world. It ranked second in Asia Pacific after Japan.
The overall number of international meetings hosted in China has increased despite some fluctuations in recent years. As China's economy continues to expand and its global importance rises, China will continue to attract large-scale exhibitions and meetings.
As data from the ICCA show, gateway cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou of Guangdong Province offer mature infrastructure and expertise in hosting large events and have captured the lion's share of China's international MICE demand. However, cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Dalian are also seen as emerging on the scene.
As travel networks continue to expand, event planners are also exploring new meeting destinations. Based on a survey of meeting planners conducted by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in 2010, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Lijiang, Nanjing, Sanya, Shenzhen and Xi'an were identified as the most popular emerging MICE destinations. As such, it is anticipated that MICE demand will play an important role in these markets in coming years.
The MICE industry also promotes activities in other industries, such as tourism and logistics, creating a "MICE economy." In order to promote local economic development, many cities have planned for MICE development. However, since MICE is a relatively specialized industry, the ability to create and deliver a destination to attract MICE demand depends largely on the availability of facilities, supporting amenities and service infrastructure. For this reason, an increasing number of hotels are now equipped with large meeting facilities, while the government builds newer and larger convention facilities. Considering many cities are also charting the same path, the potential for intense competition and redundant projects is rising. Therefore, proper planning and positioning are crucial to the healthy development of the MICE industry.
Meanwhile, according to a report by international property consultant Knight Frank, 2010 marked the end of a correction and the start of a recovery for China's hotel market.
Macau was the most active market in the first half of 2011, where three large-scale, five-star hotels were completed in the period, providing more than 4,000 rooms. Five hotels also opened in Shanghai, adding over 2,000 rooms to the city's five-star hotel room stock. Hotel expansions in Beijing and Hong Kong were comparatively less aggressive during the period.
Thomas Lam, head of research at Knight Frank in China, said the number of overnight visitor arrivals in Shanghai is expected to rise in coming years with the completion of major tourism projects and infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, Guangzhou's position as the business and exhibitions center of Asia will be strengthened as Pearl River New City becomes a new central business district and Pazhou Island is developed into a recreational business district. Beijing, given its well-established international status for leisure and business, will continue to generate steady streams of visitors.
"Hotel markets in Hong Kong and Macau are expected to remain stable, as the cities are already well developed and offer unique competitiveness that cannot be easily substituted," said Lam.
SOURCE: Shanghai Daily
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