Big Bucks beckon in untapped industry
An industry with the potential to earn Botswana millions lies largely untapped.
Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) is a specialised branch of tourism dedicated to planning, booking and facilitating conferences, seminars and other events.
In a bid to explore the sector, Business Botswana together with the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB), hosted the country’s first ever MICE symposium.
According to experts who spoke at the event, the industry has grown tremendously over the years, generating millions for host countries.
Indeed, Director at SADC Tourism Agency, Kwayke Donkor revealed the industry is worth over US$600 billion (P6 trillion!).
However, Donkor stressed that Africa’s slice of the money-spinning pie barely scratches the crust.
“If you look at Africa, it is just two percent of that (industry’s worth). The reason why we are that low, there is no effort, there is no appreciation of the industry!” bemoaned the Director, adding ignorance was a contributing factor, as many countries do not regard MICE as a priority sector.
“We believe that MICE will obviously lead to growth, because it is a factor of life. If you go to a meeting somewhere, you also spend some time there,” reasoned Director Donkor, urging Africa to take the industry seriously.
Furthermore, he said the sector has the potential to bring investments to Botswana.
Regarding Africa in relation to the MICE industry, Donkor said the continent is sitting on an untapped ‘diamond’.
He noted that the industry goes beyond tourism, touching each and every sector of the economy.
“You can’t tell me there is nowhere people meet. It starts from our families and we spend money and a lot of other things do happen.”
Donkor believes that African states are missing out on this because much of the continent’s forums are held outside Africa.
“Europe is doing very well for a simple reason: they basically make sure that whatever they have, they keep it among themselves! I am sure Botswana can be one of the diamond capitals in the world, but I am not sure how many diamond meetings and conferences are held here every year,” he remarked to wide acclaim.
Speaking to Voice Money during the symposium, HATAB Acting CEO, Tebogo Olefile said they have realised MICE has evolved drastically in recent years.
She urged the private sector to take the lead in ensuring the industry thrives in Botswana.
“We invited many experts mainly from South Africa to come and share with us how they have done it,” said Olefile, adding that for a long time when MICE was mentioned, one presumed it was only focused on conferencing.
Thus the Acting CEO feels education will be key in helping people to understand the industry.