As the demand for meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE), is forecast to rise between seven and 12 percent globally in 2020, most African countries including Ghana, are expected to capitalize on this opportunity.
The global MICE tourism sector is estimated to reach US$ 1.2 trillion by 2023.
Though Ghana is yet to fully take advantage of this aspect of tourism to derive the needed revenue, MICE is a big revenue earner for countries including South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, Zimbabwe and Algeria, all of which are members of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
The ICCA, established in 1963 is the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry with a membership of 92 countries of which Ghana is not a member.
In South Africa, there are around 211,000 national, regional and international MICE events hosted each year. Rwanda also increased its revenue for MICE from US$74 million in 2018 to US$80 million in 2019.
With the MICE industry forming 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.
Though over 763,545 visitors were said to have visited Ghana in 2019 for the ‘Year of Return’, the number of people who actually came to the country for MICE was not segmented.
CEO of African Tourism Partners, Mr. Kwakye Donkor, recently told the Goldstreet Business that a good MICE strategy for Ghana would 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.
As South Africa, and others on the continent are gradually doing well in that sector, Ghana may as well consolidate on its safety, security, good business ethics and transport connectivity in the sub region to position itself as a possible business tourism and MICE destination.
Currently, only the National Theatre and the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), have the capacity to host 1,500 and 2,500 delegates respectively.
Meanwhile, South Africa with its Expo Centre Johannesburg Convention Centre with a capacity of 20,000 people, has been making a strong statement in taking a slice of this market of business tourism. South Africa received 32 percent of the continent’s tourists in 2017, with a chunk of them being MICE delegates. That country alone has about four convention centres ranked among the top 10 on the continent.
Though revenue from MICE 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.
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.