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MICE industry turns 'green engine' for Hainan economy
【2019-01-08】

Hainan province's MICE industry - meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions - is growing fast and becoming a strong driver for local tourism development, as more firms choose the tropical island for their showcase events, encouraged by government support, high-profile international summits and the island's natural charms.

Around 2,000 convention and exhibition activities were held in 2018 in Hainan. Events mainly took place in Haikou, the provincial capital at the northern tip of Hainan Island; Sanya, an international coastal resort city at the southern tip; and Boao in Qionghai, the permanent site of the Boao Forum for Asia, according to the Department of Commerce of Hainan province.

In all, 9,033 MICE activities were held in Haikou last year, up 17 percent year-on-year, with annual revenues seeing 18 percent growth to hit 12.2 billion yuan ($1.78 billion). As of October 2018, there were 12,960 registered exhibition companies in Haikou, statistics from the Haikou Convention and Exhibition Bureau showed.

Yao Yao, manager of a local communication group, said she has been extremely busy with exhibitions recently, shuttling back and forth from different cities on the fair-weather island.

"Entering the winter season, the most pleasant time in Hainan, the provincial capital has seen increasing events being held, such as the China International Conference Industry Festival, the Deep Sea Energy Conference, Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival, International Tropical Agricultural Products Winter Trade Fair and the International Coffee Fair," said Cai Qiao, director of the Haikou bureau.

More than 120 activities were held during the 2018 Hainan International Tourism Island Carnival, the 19th since its launch. The monthlong extravaganza attracted millions of visitors with art performances, food festivals, sports competitions, exhibitions and celebrations staged across the whole island.

"Apart from its natural climate and environmental advantages, the central government's decision to designate the entire Hainan Island as a pilot free trade zone has produced a very positive effect, inspiring the enthusiasm of domestic and international convention companies to hold exhibitions and meetings in Hainan," said Cai.

"The MICE industry is growing as a 'green engine', boosting the upgrading of Hainan's pillar industries through in-depth integration, with such key sectors as tourism, tropical high-efficiency agriculture, and the medical and health industries," he said, adding that the fast growth of the sector has also boosted wider chain services such as exhibition equipment companies, advertising firms, designers, printers and MICE professionals.

"Development of the MICE industry has become a big propellant of Hainan's tourism consumption, drawing in a greater flow of meeting participants and a flow of funds. Many people who come to Hainan for exhibitions and meetings will stay longer for a holiday, do some duty-free shopping, enjoy its delicious food, or even play golf in Hainan," said Xie Qiuxiong, an official with the provincial tourism authority.

"Government support, the 59-country visa-free policy and the newly expanded duty-free policy strongly boosted the convention and exhibition sector last year," he added.

Thanks to the continuous improvement of hotels and other infrastructure in Hainan, the convention and exhibition business has expanded out from Haikou, Sanya and Boao to areas such as Chengmai, Lingshui, Danzhou and others on the less-developed western coast areas, said Lyu Yong, director of the Department of Commerce of Hainan province.

He said Hainan will introduce global events organizations and cultivate exhibition brands and companies, to build the island province into an internationally renowned conference destination.