MICE industry representatives are concerned about the relocation of some of the major events that Macau has hosted for years. The joint development of the sector in Hengqin is a solution, but it still does not convince these companies. The sector has also been losing diversity, surviving from an “internal cycle”. Nothing that can be changed until the border restrictions are lifted, but as the harmful effects continue, the damage begins to be irreversible.
The MICE industry in Macau was suspended until the beginning of September, due to the epidemic outbreak on 18 June. Today, the industry is starting to believe in the light at the end of the tunnel, with the organization of events such as the “International Technological Innovation Expo BEYOND Expo”, the “International Forum on Infrastructure Investment and Construction” (IICF). , and the Macau International Tourism (Industry) Expo. Despite the promising future, neighboring regions continue to grow and “steal” business.
G2E Asia, considered the biggest gaming and entertainment exhibition on the Asian continent, has been postponed multiple times because of the pandemic. Three years after the last edition, held in Macau, it decided to start in Singapore in August.
Other renowned fairs such as Jewelery & Gem ASIA Hong Kong and other mainland Chinese events have also decided to relocate to Singapore as it heads into the third year of pandemic restrictions.
To PLATAFORMA, the president of the Macau Convention and Exhibition Association, Irwin Poon Yiu Wing, warns that these changes may be permanent. “The MICE industry has never been about competition between companies, but between cities. G2E Asia has decided to move to Singapore and, if the customers are satisfied, it may not return [to Macau]”.
Outside Singapore, the association leader highlights Thailand as another market that is gaining ground. As such, he maintains that Macao’s epidemic prevention policy could bring “irreparable” damage to the industry, with its impact being felt in the “long term”. These measures to combat Covid-19 are accepted among their peers, but only because “they are a factor beyond their control”, he comments.
The president of the Macau Convention, Exhibition and Tourism Sectors Association, Alan Ho, is relatively optimistic, believing that cases such as Jewelery & Gem ASIA Hong Kong and G2E Asia are only temporary, as “they intend to return to the city”. ” as soon as the restrictions are lifted. In his opinion, Macau’s strengths remain intact and this will be a decisive factor when border control is reduced.
According to the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), Macau hosted 449 MICE events in 2021. A significant decrease (70.8 percent) compared to 2019, when 1,536 events were organized locally. And until the month of June 2022, the city only hosted 188 events (less than half of the number reached in 2021).
Numbers that do not worry Alan Ho, who sees the recovery of the industry going in a positive direction because, on the one hand, several of the major events were relaunched, on the other hand, the return of electronic visas and tours from mainland China between the end of October and the beginning November should encourage more exhibitors and visitors to travel to Macau.
In addition to some long-standing projects, there are also a number of new events that have chosen Macau as the stage for 2022, such as the Asian Conference on Asian Computer Vision (ACCV) held in April.
Alan Ho says that if nothing goes wrong, the third and fourth quarters will be enough to reach last year’s levels. He also emphasizes that only projects postponed by the pandemic are being accepted, admitting that exhibitors and visitors were the most affected.
“These are projects that have been postponed, and it is still difficult to attract new exhibitors and visitors. Some exhibitors with advance reservations will be reconsidered due to pandemic delays. Others end up giving up, so we need to look for new customers. It’s a complex process,” he explains.
“Atualmente parece-me que não existe grande atividade comercial em Hengqin, a população da região também é reduzida, o que faz com que a indústria esteja à espera das medidas detalhadas que serão anunciadas no próximo ano”.
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