Pacific World, the global DMC and event management organization, has released its first Annual Destination Index Special Report, providing corporate, association and agency planners with insights into the most popular destinations for meetings, incentives and events—as well as identifying key trends that are influencing these results.
The Pacific World Destination Index was initially launched in March 2014, Harsha Krishnan, Strategic Development Director at Pacific World, noted. “The 12-month overview has allowed us to incorporate factors such as seasonality by using a three-month rolling average and year-on-year comparisons, growth and group size. We also analyze the destinations on a monthly basis, looking at recent changes in country/city image; new flights and accessibility; major events; buzz about new hotels/infrastructure; political, economic and currency movements; and which event types they are seeing requests from.”
In the European, Middle Eastern and African region, as had been previously reported, one of the most popular destinations was Rome, for its “conventional but reinvented” venues and activities as well as the aggressive investment in new hotels in the city (7 percent new hotels) as well as in Milan (5 percent) in the last two years. In the report, Italy Destination Manager Emanuele Pinna noted increased visibility throughout the country thanks to several notable events, including the International Conference on Nutrition (FAO world headquarters are located in Rome) and World Summit of Nobel Peace held in December. “The Pope and the visit of important world leaders catches the attention of visitors all year round,” Pinna continued, adding that the recent Etihad and Alitalia partnership is poised to bring the Middle East market to Italy as well. “The upcoming EXPO is starting to increase the interest and the amount the requests of MICE programs into Milan and the neighboring area.” The improving economy and government stability also boosted the country’s appeal.
Paris, Strasbourg and Loire Valley in France are also attracting strong number of meetings and incentive planners. Corporate company headquarters located in Paris’ outskirts including Bayer, Sanofi, Abbott, Baxter, Dell, HP, Peugeot and Renault and the holding of related corporate or investigators meetings in the capital have contributed towards the increase of corporate events and meetings.
In the Middle East, the UAE stalwarts Dubai and Abu Dhabi claimed the top spots. In the report, Pacific World Destination Manager Jestine Alfred called Dubai “an ever-changing city which attracts a lot of repeaters due to the fact that there is something new all the time. The city and the key MICE players have been able to create and keep the interest for the destination investing in new hotels and attractions, developing new products for incentives and meetings. By 2020, Dubai is targeting 20 million tourists, so the city development won’t stop. VISA exemptions and Emirates new routes has generated a positive impact on the MICE sector increasing groups from Eastern European countries and India specially.” Demand for luxury and high-end activities is back in the sector, and Dubai has a wide offering to accommodate visitors, including the Dubai Tram, the Four Seasons Jumeirah, Four Seasons Jumeirah, Sheraton Grand Sheikh Zayed Road and Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights.
Pacific World’s Destination Index Special Report also shows that South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong were the most popular meetings and events destinations in Asia in 2014.
“South Korea being identified as one of the top destinations has been an interesting result,” Krishnan noted. “Creative and well-executed promotional campaigns have helped to overcome the North Korea threat related issues from the previous years that had drastically affected tourism. The geopolitical situation became less volatile in 2014, thereby increasing the sense of security for tourists in South Korea. The growth of the Chinese middle class and the improved visa facilities to access South Korea have also impacted the overall inbound MICE business.
“In Indonesia, Bali is the destination attracting the greatest amount of MICE business. After years of battling the negative impact of the terrorist attack in 2005, Bali is finally being perceived as a safe destination now with heightened security measures put in place by the Police and local people.
“Hong Kong has been a pleasant surprise. Despite the political situation, we have seen an increase in clients looking for suppliers offering guarantees in the areas of Corporate Governance and Compliance. The tax free system and the visa exemption for almost all visitors have also been key factors contributing towards the success of MICE business in Hong Kong.”
Top trends identified as influencing factors driving more meeting planners towards these destinations included:
Compliances and Corporate Governance guarantees – International clients are increasingly requesting suppliers to offer guarantees in the areas of Corporate Governance and Compliance.
Visa Policies – The immigration policies and visa requirements are still a strong a decisive factor when choosing a destination.
Destination Reinvention – TOP destinations have been able to reinvent themselves taking advantage of the their cultural and natural heritage & investing in new/trendy/ modern structures.
Ancient and New – destinations offering a combo of historic and state of the art venues and hotels are the most demanded.
International Hotels Chains Generating Trust – The opening of new international well-known brand hotels in the destinations generates trust and interest for a destination. These investments are seen as a sign of confidence: If an international chain is investing in new hotels in a hidden city in China there must be potential and something attractive not just for the leisure but also for the MICE industry.