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Da Nang aims to become new MICE hub

July 18, 2016


A booth at the BMTM Da Nang 2016.
Mary McKeon, a team leader for the Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism (ESRT) Programme, said European travellers were keen on visiting Vietnam, including Da Nang.
"Da Nang is unique as a beach city for MICE business in Asia. It is also a safe destination with easy access [transport, visas, etc]. Its innovative travel programmes and promotions also attract Europeans," she said.
McKeon was a speaker at a seminar last month at "BMTM (Beach-leisure's MICE Travel Mart) Da Nang 2016" one of Vietnam's biggest tourism events.
She said Europe was one of the most important tourism markets for Vietnam, generating more than a million arrivals a year, with a high rate of spending. European tourists account for 15 per cent of total international arrivals to Vietnam. The tourism authority's figures show that Vietnam received 757,244 international visitors in May, a 30.2-per- cent increase over the same month last year. In the first five months, the country received more than 4 million arrivals, up 20 per cent year on year.
China provided the most visitors, followed by South Korea and Japan. Russia was the only European country in the top 10, while Thailand stood eighth.
Last year, Da Nang received 4.6 million visitors, including more than a million international tourists.
McKeon said spending by event organisers and delegates would benefit the economy of the city as well as Vietnam as a whole. She said advertisements, public relations, trade fairs, press conferences, events, social media and trade workshops would help the city become a favourite MICE destination.
She urged the city to implement effective systems, to focus on budget allocation and assignment of responsibilities, to develop partnerships to work closely with local and international stakeholders, to identify strategies for marketing, sales and lobbying, and to implement monitoring and impact analysis.
Daria Mishukova, an international branding and public relations expert, said Vietnam was very likely to receive more Europeans, especially from highly travel-oriented countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Just as Vietnam's beaches and seaside attractions had motivated many Russians to visit the country, other European tourists will also enjoy visiting Da Nang sooner or later, she said.
However, there is a long way to go despite the bright outlook, admitted Xuan Binh, deputy director of the Da Nang Department of Tourism.
"Other destinations in the region such as Malaysia's Genting, Indonesia's Bali, the Philippines's Cebu and Thailand's Phuket are constantly improving their tourism products and services. It is now time for the city to identify its direction and create differentiation to enhance competitiveness and integration of the destination," he said.
He said the city's major weaknesses included the lack of an MICE development strategy, collaboration for local tourism development, direct flights from Europe, North America and Australia, human resources, technical facilities, and support services such as night entertainment, shows, and souvenirs.
"We do not have an international-level convention centre yet. And we need to attract airlines to open flight routes to Da Nang, as the new international terminal will be completed and put into operation next year," he said.
Do Khoi, deputy director of Vietnam Airlines, said the carrier planned to expand its operations from Da Nang. By early next year, air links between Da Nang and Hong
Kong, Busan and Taipei will be established, aside from the existing direct connections with Tokyo, Seoul, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Siem Reap and Bangkok and a number of charter flights from other cities in China.
Binh said priority should be placed on human-resource development, which requires cooperation among tourism authorities and educational institutes. There should also be efforts to attract reputable companies to set up offices in the city.
Van Luu of Vietnam's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, said Da Nang needed more than 24,000 skilled personnel for the tourism industry. This suggests high demand for professional capacity-building and high-quality HR training. Acknowledging that MICE tourists demand professional travel agencies, three-star or higher hotels and new attractions, he urged MICE-specialised companies and organisations to have a presence in the city.
He added that Da Nang should have a specialised organisation focusing on MICE.
"MICE tourists focus mainly on work, but still need entertainment, and to learn about economic conditions, cultural and social destinations," he said. "Only when we satisfy customers will we achieve success."