Growing M!CE in India

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In an interview, V Anbu, DG & CEO, IMTMA & BIEC and also the current elect President of UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) shares more on the industry

As UFI president elect what is your focus and agenda for the global exhibition industry?

Having had a long association with UFI which has a membership exceeding 800 member companies having partnerships with AIPC (The International Association of Convention Centres), and ICCA (The International Congress and Convention Association), etc., I will be furthering its mission and driving developments and working towards exhibition industry finding wider recognition and global acceptance. As the President of this august body my focus will be on building collaborations, developing UFI’s work in various parts of the world, taking its research work to the next level besides building relations with exhibition industry stakeholders’ one step further at a global level.

What major steps are you planning to take to make India a major player?

India is advantageously placed for attracting big ticket events to its shores with the country aspiring to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. Indian exhibition industry has been seeing some significant changes and promises to move up the S-curve. By disseminating information and networking we plan to reach out to more industry professionals than ever before. We hope to build exhibitions as a platform for exploring, exchanging and reciprocity and make it the driving force for industrial development and manufacturing growth. It is extremely important to showcase to the world the potential of organising exhibitions and corporate events in India and for this we need to initiate regular exchanges between various stakeholders to align interests in areas such as standards and codes, best practices, etc.

Where would you rate India, on a global M!CE platform?

India ranks fifth in M!CE tourism in the Asia Pacific region behind Japan, China, South Korea and Australia. As per ICCA rankings India moved seven positions in 2018, hosting 175 meetings in 2017, as against 143 in 2016. M!CE tourism is among the niche tourism products identified by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India to develop India as a 365 days destination. M!CE industry in India is undergoing changes with the exhibition industry growing at the rate of 10- 12 per cent. New venues are being built across the country in many metro cities as well as tier-1, 2, 3 and 4 cities which bodes well for exhibitions and events. Existing venues on the other hand are enhancing their capacities to brace up to the demands of hosting grand-scale congresses, exhibitions and corporate events.

Can you pick five key hurdles in positioning India as a top M!CE destination?

• We need to push the M!CE industry to become more organised and recognised as a medium for development of trade and economy.
• Infrastructure and supporting systems are crucial for organising technical conventions. We need to create a well-defined ecosystem and supply chain for the M!CE industry to grow.
• Developing professional standards and code of ethics in the way data is gathered and disseminated, ensuring fairness in dealings, etc. is a challenge which needs to be overcome.
• Indian cities and destinations need to promote the comfort feel that they are great host cities / destinations.
• There are bandwidth concerns with the usage of smartphones and other electronic devices that require additional Wi-Fi. Connectivity is vital for the success of all exhibitions and corporate events and addressing this is a challenge.

Private investments alone will not suffice, central and state governments should accord M!CE industry its due recognition. All stakeholders should have an integrated approach towards developing event venues, hotels, skilled workforce and providing end-to-end solutions on important aspects for developing the M!CE industry in India.