Rationalization of taxes, connecting stakeholders, critical for MICE to succeed: Suman Billa

Speaking at a seminar, jointly organized by ASSOCHAM and ICPB on MICE tourism in India, Suman Billa, Joint Secretary, Ministry of tourism made a case for reduction of state taxes to encourage MICE movement. He also pitched for a joint marketing and promotion strategy involving private and government bodies.  An excerpt:


Referring to a study conducted by ITB, some year and a half ago, Suman Billa, Chairman, ICPB and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, GOI informed that a whopping fifty-two percent of all global tourism accounted for MICE. He, too, like other panelists concurred that the world was transforming at a pulsating rate. He said that the moot question was whether we, as a nation, were ready to engineer our own business model.

He said that the national tourism policy aimed at pushing the current .68 percent share of all MICE traffic to one percent by 2020. “We further hope to double that share to two percent by 2025,” he noted.

Talking about India as a destination, he believed that it had all the ingredients to make it a fascinating destination. “The infrastructural build-up to augment MICE has been nothing short of spectacular. We have noteworthy convention facilities in a number of cities like Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, and Greater Noida,” he said.

To his understanding, the the failure to promote MICE was our inability
in connecting the dots. “I believe, where we are missing is connecting these singular efforts into a more meaningful chain. We need to be forthcoming in our pitch, story-telling, and bringing together all those who form an intrinsic part of the value chain,” he suggested. He argued that some of it was achieved, stating that Hyderabad, now, had a convention visitors bureau which included diverse stakeholders helping get the pitch right for the city.

“We must raise the level all together. It also requires strengthening the tourism ministry’s secretariat to ensure that we have enough manpower at our disposal,” he noted. He said that central and state governments’ needed to work together to create a corpus of fund to engage in marketing and branding push in a major way.

Suman Billa was of the view that the challenge was to host some global conventions in India which would trigger the next wave of MICE movement. “Generating enough skilled manpower to harness the potential will be challenging. Also, the issue of not having the conference visa in the fold of e-visa is an issue. We are hopeful that it will be resolved shortly,” he said.

Regressive taxes, also, had a role in hindering the desired growth of MICE segment, he felt. “Kerala has rationalized taxation on MICE and convention centers. There are certain states like Delhi and Tamil Nadu that have higher taxes. They must look at rationalizing them,” he suggested.

Informing the audience that the government had commissioned a dedicated public relations service for key markets like Germany, China, and the USA, he said the ministry was considering appointing a PR agency to specifically look into media publicity for MICE. “We are looking at road-shows and exhibitions in several countries to promote India as a MICE destination,” he concluded.

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