The opening of the National Convention Centre on 2017 generated increased efforts in both the Costa Rican government and the private sector to attract more tourists in the MICE (Acronym for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) segment of Costa Rica
“It’s an industry growing significantly. An industry of $ 11,000 million worldwide. We want a little piece of that.” said Tourism Minister, Mauricio Ventura.
Business and professional visitors have been increasing in the last three years however, it is still a small percentage compared to revenues for vacation.
According to the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) figures, more than 1.9 million people entered Costa Rica for leisure purposes in 2015 while there were only 419,077 on business goals.
“We began promoting Costa Rica as the country of sun, beach, and nature, but other areas such as congresses, where we have features to compete were not encouraged,” said Pablo Solano, director of Costa Rica Convention Bureau.
However, that reality changes with the future opening of the convention center and other steps being taken by the government, including greater participation in trade fairs and hiring international consultants in the field.
The actions of ICT are seen favorably by the private sector, that have also made increasing efforts to attend such activities, as well as having closer ties with companies and associations inside and outside the country.
Among these businesses, of course, Premio DMC and Premio M&E are currently is assisting throughout 2016 to the following events: IMEX LV, Site Global Panama, IBTM Spain, Sales Mission Euromic Mexico
Conventions and others
The Tourism Minister mentioned that a tourist vacationing in Costa Rica spends an average of U.S. $100 a day, while those who are traveling on meetings spend between $ 200 and $ 450.
“That means, roughly, that every visitor to a meeting that we attract to the country, means bringing, more or less, three tourists on vacation,” he said.
However, the entry of a greater amount of dollars is not only the only benefit as, by increasing the number of congresses it is a need for more suppliers who provide services ranging from chair rental, florists, audio services and others.
It also would maintain healthy hotel occupancy levels throughout the year, as meetings time occurs in the off-season of Costa Rica.
“Regular tourism also benefits because any conference or congress has pre and/or post extensions, people who come before or stay longer to know a bit of the country,” said Alvaro Arguedas, president of the Convention Bureau.
The ICT considers that the implementation of the convention center will be a great tool to access these benefits, however, it goes beyond.
“We are presenting to Costa Rica, ie the whole country. Statistics say that in about 80% of the meetings held around the world have between 50 and 500 delegates; in the country, there are a lot of destinations that can have these meetings, “said Ventura.
The MICE segment also includes exhibitions and incentive travel, two areas that can be further exploited.
Exhibits currently focus on local, for example, when performing activities such as brides shows or car fairs.
Meanwhile, incentives, companies are dedicated to providing five-star services to people who are recognized with a trip due to their achievements within a company.
“These are individuals who have excelled in sales or exceeded goals, and the companies seek to reward them no longer with material things but with experiences that generate a higher, and more agreeable sense of belonging,” said Solano.
Among the involved companies, there are a few Destination Management Companies among the ones, certainly, Premio is a leader, organizing events of associations and international organizations in Latin America, conferences, and Incentive Programs.
Helena Chavarria, President of Premio DMC and Premio M&E, said that the Convention Center would complement the facilities of the country and will open the possibility for greater and more transcending events.
“We also have representatives in priority and strategic markets, as well as strategical alliances such as Maritz Global Network Meetings and associations like Euromic,” said Helena.
In the case of the Hilton Garden Inn, that within a year and a half has handled more than 5,000 people related to business tourism, maintains a strategy of participation in fairs, regional travel, and direct promotion.
While The Westin Golf Resort & Spa focuses more on the incentives programs and manages to reach them through the global sales offices of Starwood Hotels, located in the main cities in the world, its website and attendance at fairs.
This article appeared first at El Financiero, most important financial paper in Costa Rica and was translated and curated for the Premio DMC Blog.
Source: El Financiero