IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific 2019 took place in Bangkok, Thailand from 24-26 September this year. In total, there were 345 new and returning exhibitors, along with 474 MICE, association and corporate buyers. According to the organiser, returning exhibitors have increased their space take-up with TCEB helming the largest pavilion of 600 sqm followed by Tourism Promotions Board, Philippines of 210 sqm.
However, it was not difficult to notice that the exhibition was relatively small, with glaring absence of exhibitors from China and the Greater Mekong Sub-region. Despite the size of the show, delegates expressed positive experiences overall, citing more intimacy and opportunities to network through a variety of newly introduced learning and social activities.
On the last day of the show, the 18th Sticky Awards luncheon rewarded the innovative efforts of IT&CMA and CTW Asia-Pacific delegates who stood out at the show. Strategic partners and host country Thailand took home the awards for the Stickiest Destination – Overall, Stickiest In-Booth Experience, and Stickiest Function for the Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception. This year’s 20 winners included Korea for winning Stickiest Destination – Exhibitor Services for their professionalism and hospitality during the show and Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau for Stickiest Destination – Marketing & Promotion and Stickiest Social Sharing for their marketing efforts. Maciej Olbert from Luxoft won Stickiest International Corporate Buyer and Rodney Yew from Discover Holidays (Asia) took home the Stickiest International MICE Buyer title.
The Sustainability is a prominent theme in this year's IT&CMA. For a start, the organiser and the event venue should be applauded for ensuring minimal use of plastics and paper throughout the show. The topic was also discussed separately in the various knowledge sessions, including the Asian MICE Cruise Conference, Opening Keynote, Associations Day Forum, ASEAN MICE Forum and Brands Presentations. Cruise liners seek to dispel myths and criticisms levelled against the industry; government agencies discussed their respective country/city’s efforts in environmental, social and economic sustainability; associations, academics and activists shared their views and experiences.
However, if there were some mash-up of these sessions, it may possibly spark-off more lively debates on sustainability. For example, while TCEB’s Senior Vice President of Business, Mrs Nichapa Yoswee expounded on the bureau’s initiatives and incentives to encourage sustainable MICE events during one of the IT&CMA’s brand showcase presentations, Dr Bert van Walbeek, Managing Director of The Winning Edge, during the ASEAN MICE Forum, exposed how some public and private stakeholders at the provincial and city levels are slow to carry-through TCEB’s guidelines. And while most sessions were promoting the idea of sustainable MICE events, research study presented at the Association Day Forum by SITE shows that one of the top 10 trends in incentive travel is the increase in use of "all-inclusive" destinations. This goes against the idea of sustainability because there is a tendency for "all-inclusive" destinations and venues, including cruises, to over-cater in terms of food and beverages and hence lead to high level of waste.
In summary, the key takeaways from all these IT&CMA knowledge sessions are:
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