Ghana is yet to capitalize on the value of the global Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) market which has been estimated to reach US$ 1.2 trillion by 2023.
While the MICE industry forms about 10 percent of the overall tourism sector globally, it is reported that MICE delegates spend about five times regular tourists’ expenditure.
Ghana, over the years, has taken minimal advantage of the sector to supplement tourism’s contribution to GDP through local events and international business travels.
Instructively, about 50 international events are expected to take place in the country from now till November 2019, signifying interest in Ghana by the international community. A situation that the country can easily leverage on..
However, CEO of African Tourism Partners, Mr. Kwakye Donkor, told Goldstreet Business that a good MICE strategy for Ghana can help optimize the benefits in the sector.
“Developing a strategy to enhance the human resource capacity and existing infrastructure, can help enhance the benefits that the industry offers to the country to lure more delegates,” he said.
The sector, which he said, constitutes business tourism, has been offered some prominence but only that so much emphasis is placed on leisure travel and tourism in Ghana.
As South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya are gradually doing well in that sector, Ghana may as well consolidate on its safety, security, and good business ethics and transport connectivity in the sub region to position itself as the leading business tourism and MICE destination in West Africa.
Mr. Donkor noted that the inability of African countries to establish a baseline for the MICE sector, makes it difficult for countries like Ghana to confirm their positioning in the global MICE landscape.
“If past and ongoing events are adequately recorded, strategy and implementation plan in place with a designated department to solely promote and market Ghana as a possible MICE destination, the country will surely optimize its positioning on the continent,” he said.
Currently only the National Theatre and the Accra International Conference Centre, AICC, have the capacity to host 1,500 and 2,500 people respectively.
Most meetings are held in hotel conference rooms and only a few can accommodate up to 1,000 people, with most being unable to meet multiple demands such as simultaneously holding banquets and group discussions.
So far, South Africa is the only African country making strong statements in taking a slice of this market as it received 32 percent of the continent’s tourists in 2017, with a chunk of them being MICE delegates. That country aims to reach a 40 percent increase this year.
But Mr. Donkor believes Ghana, can take advantage of the several international brand hotels including the newly opened Marriot Hotel, Gold Coast City Kempinski and Accra City Hotel to project itself as a MICE destination.
Though revenue from meetings and exhibitions in the global tourism space has reached almost US$760 billion according to the Global Association of Exhibition, Africa’s share has stood at 3.3 percent, while Europe’s stands at 55 percent.
This development consolidates the fact that, developed countries already have the institutional infrastructure and are exploiting MICE to the most.
It is estimated that close to 40 percent of business and conference delegates return to those destinations as leisure tourists bringing their families with them.
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe