India’s MICE industry on the cusp of growth?

India has long been celebrated for its rich cultural diversity, storied history, and lively festivals. However, when measured against its Asian counterparts, India has fallen considerably short in terms of capitalising on Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition industry (MICE) opportunities.

With some recent initiatives, especially the grand unveiling of “Yashobhoomi,” India’s expansive International Convention and Expo Centre (IICC), industry is confident that a transformative shift is on the horizon for the industry. This visionary endeavour is expected to enhance India’s attractiveness in the MICE domain, making it a credible alternative to well established destinations such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

The ripple effect of this development is anticipated to benefit to related sectors, including hospitality, travel, and entertainment.


Image Credit: PIB

India welcomed the International Convention and Expo Centre (IICC), aptly named “Yashobhoomi” in Delhi’s Dwarka as Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled Phase 1 of this state-of-the-art facility.

Constructed at a cost of Rs 5,400 crores, the infrastructure promises to redefine the landscape of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) in India. Among the world’s largest MICE facilities, “Yashobhoomi” boasts an expensive project area of over 8.9 lakh square metres and a built-up area of more than 1.8 lakh square metres.

Here are some of the key features of Yashobhoomi Convention Centre:

  • The convention centre occupies an area of more than 73,000 square metres and encompasses 15 convention rooms which include the main auditorium, the grand ballroom (with capacity of around 2,500 guests) and 13 meeting rooms. These facilities offer a capacity of accommodating up to 11,000 delegates.
  • It offers the country’s largest LED media façade, enhancing visual experiences and communication.
  • The Yashobhoomi Auditorium is equipped with an automated seating system, transforming the flat floor into an auditorium-style tiered seating arrangement which is adaptable for various seating configurations.
  • Yashobhoomi demonstrates a strong commitment to sustainability as it is equipped with a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system with 100% wastewater reuse as well as provisions for rainwater harvesting.

Sharing his views with IBT on the grand opening of  “Yashobhoomi”, Naveen Rizvi, Executive Director-ICE & Vice President, SITE India Chapter said:

India’s MICE industry is on the cusp of a remarkable transformation, driven by the emergence of the newly inaugurated venue “Yashobhoomi.” It represents a significant leap forward, promising to enhance India’s global standing as a preferred MICE destination. Equipped with world-class technology, expansive exhibition halls, and seamless connectivity, the venue is primed to provide an unparalleled experience for event organizers and participants alike.

While elaborating on the salient features of Yashobhoomi, he asserts that the strategic location ensures ease of access for both domestic and international attendees, amplifying the city’s allure for event planners. New Delhi could become a magnet for global events, attracting a diverse range of large-scale international conferences, exhibitions, concerts, and gatherings that will undoubtedly bolster the Indian MICE industry’s growth and contribute to the nation’s economic development.

A Boost to Conference Tourism Infrastructure

India has been well known for its medical as well as religious tourism, but with the launch of “Yashobhoomi”, the country promises to take new strides in major destination for conference tourism. The launch aims at putting Delhi on the global conference tourism map as well as generating thousands of jobs and helping traditional artisans display their skills to international audiences.

With destinations like Spain, UAE and the USA being considered the best MICE venues, India has lagged behind in this space with only an estimated 1% of the global share due to smaller facilities that lack modern infrastructure.

With the newly launched “Yashobhoomi”, India is aiming to boost its MICE tourism since the development of the MICE industry has great advantages for destinations, a few of which are listed below:

  • MICE tourism offers benefits to the economies such as business opportunities, dissemination of knowledge and provision of training, skill upgradation etc.
  • Meetings and conventions offer high value-added in terms of delegate expenditure and also serve the dual purpose of promoting international relations. Moreover, it is a high-revenue generating tourism as most delegates tend to use costly accommodation and plan additional leisure options for the event.
  • The sector helps increase local government and private sector investments that result in the up-gradation of the general hospitality environment of the destination country.

Industry segments that contribute the most to global MICE events include Government and Development agencies like UN, WHO etc, environment, food security, healthcare and medical. Information Technology etc. STEM subjects such as Medical Science (17%), Technology (15%) and Science (13%) remain the most popular meeting topics globally, due to high focus on technology intensive sectors.

As per the MICE study carried out in 2019, India’s MICE industry market was estimated at Rs 37,576 crore, out of which 60% was attributable to Meetings, Incentives and Conferences. International MICE accounted for 22% of market size. According to the tourism ministry, Indian MICE has less than 1% share in the estimated global MICE business despite the natural and cultural advantages of India and being one of the highest growing economies. According to the ICAA ranking, India was ranked 28th with 158 meetings in 2019.

Only 7 Indian cities have been included in the top 475 cities as per the international ranking of cities by ICAA in terms of the number of international association meetings.

Top 7 cities in India for international association meetings

City Number of Meetings Rank
New Delhi 37 75
Hyderabad 19 159
Bengaluru 14 203
Mumbai 14 203
Chennai 13 210
Goa 8 307
Ahmedabad 4 424

Source: ICCA, 2019

In ICCA’s latest research for 2022, rankings have dropped further. New Delhi was ranked 100th with 20 meetings while Bengaluru and Hyderabad were ranked 223rd with 8 meetings each. Overall, India was ranked 37th with 68 meetings.

Initiatives to boost the MICE industry

As per the National Strategy document on MICE, India’s core MICE infrastructure and amenities are globally competitive. Yet the core reasons identified for India’s low position in MICE tourism include a lack of focused approach, absence of a system for capturing information about various national and international MICE events, high tax structure and costs as well as lack of standardisation of processes and services. Moreover, successful international cities have their convention bureaus to market to provide support to organisations and associations hosting events, whereas there are no city convention bureaus in India.

The Rajya Sabha Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, in its report titled ‘Development of Niche Tourism (including Spiritual Tourism) has suggested various steps to boost the MICE industry in India which include:

  • Creating a marketing body to get more events as well as nurture MICE investments in the city.
  • Setting up MICE promotion bureaus in six identified cities within a targeted time schedule to market and showcase the respective destinations as favourable locations for hosting business events and activities.
  • Increasing the adequacy of quality hotels can enhance the reputation of a destination as a suitable location for hosting MICE events.
  • Coordination between the government and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to ensure that the identified cities of MICE destinations are well connected for international flights.

Although still at a nascent stage, India’s MICE industry is seen to be on the cusp of growth, backed by a dynamic blend of modern facilities and rich cultural experiences. Major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore etc are working towards offering top-notch venues and accommodations to attract both domestic and international events. This sector holds immense promise for economic growth and global engagement owing to support from the government as well as growing investments.

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