Bali Not Getting its Share of the MICE Pie
Bali Needs a Conference and Convention Bureau
Starting from the 1990s, the term “MICE” entered the lexicon of Bali tourism. An acronym for “meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions” – MICE was often cited as the new “gold field” of Indonesian tourism as hotels rushed to construct conference centers and supplement their sales teams with MICE specialists.
As recently reported by Balipost.com, data supplied by the Ministry of Tourism show that MICE-related tourism to Bali declined somewhat in 2017 and 2018, when compared to 2016. Meanwhile, Yogyakarta in Java has recorded steady increases year-by-year in MICE-related business from 2016 until 2018.
In order to boost Bali’s MICE sector of the economy, the local branch of Bank Indonesia is reviving a long-standing “call-to-action” by urging that Bali establish a Bali Convention Bureau.
One of Bali’s tourism leader and the owner of the Segara Villa Hotel in Sanur, IB Ngurah Wijaya, complained that the desire to seriously pursue the MICE market surfaced briefly in the 1990s but faded away due to a lack of commitment. “There was no funding, so activities in support of MICE were unable to operate in an optimal manner,” said Wijaya during a Focus Group Discussion sponsored by Bank Indonesia on “Accelerating the Formation of a Bali Convention Bureau in order to Promote MICE and International Events" held on Friday, September 20, 2019.
Ngurah said the cost of operating a Bali Convention Bureau could come from private and public sources. He admitted that there is a substantial cost in creating a convention bureau needed, among other tasks, to create a database and bidding mechanism.
Wijaya also pointed out that while leisure and FIT travelers are increasingly difficult to identify as a target market, the MICE market is more clearly defined comprised of organizations, government agencies, associations and others who attend or organize conferences and summits.
Wijaya also alluded to Bali’s past history of handling major international events such as the annual gatherings of APEC, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund proving that Bali has a high standard of managerial talent and infrastructure needed to compete with other destinations in the region such as Bangkok, Singapore, and Malaysia.
The head of the Bali branch of Bank Indonesia, Trisno Nugroho, cited Bali as a center for MICE activity in Indonesia with the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center (BNDCC) and Bali International Convention Center (BICC) hosting events on almost a weekly basis. “I believe there are many events (in Bali). For instance, if Bank Indonesia hosts a major event in Bali, this will certainly be followed by more – possibly smaller events,” said Nugroho.
While competing destinations across the region have professionally staffed and well-funded conference and convention bureaus pursuing and bidding on major conferences as much as five years in the future, Bali has no equivalent organization seeking to secure a larger share of the MICE market. Recognizing the immense value of MICE visitors both in terms of tax and operational revenue, governments in the region provide financial incentives to meeting and conference organizers to pay for marketing expenses or subsidize events that form part of a materialized bid, while Indonesia fails to aggressively present competitive incentives.
Also speaking at the Focus Group, University of Indonesia academician and the Indonesian National Science Education Facility (INASEF), Dr. Christina L. Rudatin, told those in attendance that participants at MICE events were business people. As a result, she claimed that even during periods when the economy is in a cycle of decline, this does not necessarily impact on the MICE sector.