This is probably not the best time to feature Armenia as a travel destination given the current Covid-19 situation, but Armenia does have its beauty, legends and fascinating history. While there is potential for international meetings and incentive travel in Armenia, limitations in accessibility and its sometimes tense relationship with its neighbouring countries are obstacles for MICE organisers.
At the recent Asian MICE Cruise Conference held in-conjunction with IT&CMA 2019, the speakers discussed the viability of organising MICE events on a cruise ship. Some of the key benefits highlighted by the speakers at the conference include:
The Caucasus nation of Georgia, not to be confused with the US state of Georgia, is gaining traction as a regional MICE destination. In 2016, within the framework of the National Tourism Administration of Georgia, the Georgian Convention and Exhibition Bureau (GCEB) started operations with the objective to promote the development of business tourism in Georgia. By 2018, Georgia has achieved the first place in the ICCA rankings for the Caucasus and Central Asia regions.
Stepantsminda is a small town located in a valley in northern Georgia, about three hours drive from the capital city of Tbilisi. The grand Caucasus Mountains serve as a spectacular natural backdrop to the town with a population of just about 2,000. The town is seeing healthy growth in MICE visitors and general tourists due to its natural beauty.
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Rayong, which is about a 3-hour drive from Bangkok, is a fully industrialized city in Thailand’s Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) dedicated to petrochemical and chemical industries. Hence, it is hard to imagine that such an industrialized region is home to a number of beautiful resort islands, such as Samed Island (also spelled as "Samet" in some publications and websites). The island is one of the top tourist destinations for both Thais and foreigners, and it is accessible by a 20 minutes speedboat ride from Ao Prao Pier in Rayong.
One of the most luxurious resorts on Samed Island is the Ao Prao Resort, part of the Thai owned and managed Ao Prao Resort Group. It offers 100 guest rooms and conference rooms with the scenic views of the Gulf of Thailand. This is definitely a MICE venue of choice for incentive groups heading for the EEC region because besides white sands and clear blue sea, there is a variety of activities to do, including nature trekking, portrait drawing, muay thai lesson and offering food to monks.
The first ever Trump-Kim Summit, F1 night race, high profile IMF meeting in the past, and the "Crazy Rich Asian" have surely proved that Singapore has what it takes to host successful meetings, incentive groups, conventions, exhibitions and even 'crazy rich' parties. Singapore, as a MICE destination, scores high on accessibility, security, ease of communication, hotel and meeting facilities and IT.
Below is an overview of Singapore's MICE industry in Chinese, written by MICEreview's Editor, commissioned by EventPlatform magazine of Taiwan.
Bosnia & Herzegovina is a country situated in the western Balkan peninsular of Europe. Its storied history and its recent war with neighbouring Serbia make it rather difficult to explain this country in a few sentence. Today as you interact with the people in Bosnia, you can still feel their angst and emotion on the war that happened just about 20 years ago, as almost everyone, every family has a story to tell.
But perhaps it is these history, stories and emotions, as well as the natural beauty of the country that make Bosnia & Herzegovina a great place to visit, from the MICE point of view. For example, the experience of the recent war has given rise to interesting themed tours and activities such as the "Siege Tour", "Tunnel Tour". While a walk through the main street capital city Sarajevo's Old Town is like a walk through history from the Ottoman era, Austro-Hungarian period, the Communist regime to today. Unlike old towns of other European countries, the architectures of each era were well preserved on one street - like a linear timeline, making easier to explain the history of the country. Then there are other heritage sites such as Mostar, Pocitelj and nature sites with spectacular views such as the Kravice waterfall. And dining right beside gushing waters along the Buna River is an experience not to be missed.
Bosnia & Herzegovina is a truly an amazing destination with great potential for MICE, although more investment and development in infrastructure, as well as improvement on assessibility would be ideal.
The Serbs may still have historical and political issues to resolve with some of its neighbours, but great nature, rich heritage and war stories make Serbia an interesting destination for tourism and MICE.
In the capital city of Belgrade, the Belgrade Fortress in the Kalemegdan Park commands an impressive view overlooking the confluence of Danube and Sava rivers., It is a symbol of Belgrade since centuries ago and it has been built, re-built and expanded over the years and hence its architecture is an embodiment of Roman, Byzantine, Serbian, Hungarian and Ottoman styles. Underground cellars and halls within the fortress are indeed unique venues for conference, exhibition and dinner functions. However, in an effort to preserve the structure and archaeological artefacts, only certain events are allowed to be held here. MICE organisers should check with the local DMCs or convention bureau for availability and eligibility.
MICE organisers looking for more secluded venues for 'secret' corporate retreat may want to consider the Kustendorf Timber Town. The Timber Town is located on a hill in Mokra Gora, some 200km away from Belgrade. It was built by film director Emir Kusturica for his movie “Life is a miracle” and now serves as a resort. There are restaurants, a hotel, indoor and outdoor theatres, a swimming pool, tennis courts and gym facilities, in addition to nature walks with breathtaking view of the mountainous region. This makes the Timber Town a great venue for company retreats where conference, team-building and social activities can all be held in one place. The hotel has 76 rooms, 3 suites and 3 houses for accommodation, and the multipurpose hall has a capacity of 250 in theatre style seating.
Dubrovnik in Croatia, already a popular European beach destination, has now been made more famous thanks to Hollywood movies and TV series such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Robin Hood (starring Jamie Foxx), and Game of Thrones etc. It is great location for incentive travel given its rich history and scenery. There are many open spaces, indoor halls and restaurants housed in heritage sites suitable for holding special theme dinners and events. Some of these include the Pucic Palace Hotel, Photo Fish Restaurant, Klarisa Restaurant, East West Benji Beach Bar, the Old Quarantine, the Old Customs Building, Townhall MKD Theatre, the Rector's Palace, the Franciscan Monastery, as well as concert and party venue - Revelin.
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