It’s projected that 3,700 hosted buyers and 8,700 trade visitors who do business with 157 countries attended IMEX 2009 to focus on the international meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry. Which business travel destinations caught my attention? Well, certainly these destinations aren’t new to the to the MICE industry, but these tourism and convention bureaus want others to know how they are focused on meeting the needs of business travelers, meetings and events into the future:
  1. Conventions Australia. Members include Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. Conventions Australia is ending its three year commitment to promote itself to the MICE industry, but it’s clear that this relationship among tourism offices is just beginning. While Conventions Australia is focused on the international conventions market, I suspect Australia will be a destination that will also catch the attention of the corporate market in the future.
  2. Visit London. While London is far from new to the MICE market, they are host to the London 2012 Games, and the business events industry in London is transforming its East End in preparation for the Games. They are also taking some bold steps that may ultimately result in industry best practices with the Games, including its Fair Pricing Charter for event suppliers and encouraging a high Olympic attendance. London has been leveraging its image as a city of culture and sports.
  3. Asian Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (AACVB). Members include China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. And at IMEX last week, AACVB announced its re-launch, indicating their intention to growing their market share of MICE business and their position in the industry.
  4. Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ABTA). Abu Dhabi represented 10% of the Emirate’s international tourism revenue in 2008, and the German and UK markets have accounted for 22% and 13% of the meetings visitors, respectively. Abu Dhabi offers the facilities and services of a leading international business center coupled with the attractions and recreational possibilities of a luxurious tourist destination.
  5. Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. Most major U.S. cities were at IMEX 2009, but Philadelphia made a particularly strong case for itself as a world destination for the MICE industry by showcasing the number of direct international connections, and ease of access in a reasonable amount of time.

To be sure, IMEX draws convention bureaus all across the globe, and most of the tourism offices and their hotels and convention facilities can make a strong case for business travel and events. Other destinations that I am following for the next 24 months include (but not limited to): Beijing (China), Berlin (Germany), Chicago (USA), Dubai (UAE), Lisbon (Portugal), Madrid (Spain), Paris (France), Tokyo (Japan), and Valencia (Spain). All were represented at IMEX. Of course, I will do my best to spend time in these locations and share my destination reviews.

Originally published May 31, 2009