The first meeting of IMA (India Mice Alliance) Advisory Committee was held on 20th May 2020. The meeting took place on Zoom platform amidst COVID-19 concerns. Eighteen dignified MICE industry professionals who are a part of the Advisory Committee of IMA joined the e-meeting to deliberate on the way ahead for a meaningful and fruitful campaign.
Mr. Rajesh Agrawal, Chairman, India Mice Alliance & ED, ITPO gave the opening remarks and thanked Mr. Raghav Khosla, Founder, IMA & Group Editor, Exhibition Showcase for the initiative while expressing gratitude towards all Advisory Committee Members for participating in the initiative. He mentioned that the support and active participation of all the stakeholders will be required for making a strong case for opening up of the MICE sector at an earliest date. He further observed that to survive and revive our industry we need to outgrow all external challenges & reboot ourselves with one set of framework/ protocol. He reiterated that if we work together systematically and with commitment then ITPO (being under the Department of Commerce, Govt. of India) can be in a good position to express and articulate the voice of the industry to the policy makers. Thereafter, the Chairperson invited all the Advisory Committee members to share their views & perspectives.
The brief of the suggestions/ comments received from the stakeholders are as under :-
- The Government be apprised the important role exhibitions can play in reviving the economy. The Government should also be requested that MICE industry be given industry status to give a boost to this important sector. Confidence in destination India needs to be promoted.
- The standardized protocol as per International standards can be adopted for opening venues across the country. The standard protocols (non-negotiable) for all segments of the industry – Venues, Organizers, Service Providers, Exhibitors and Business Buyers needs to be worked-out.
- A fixed date should be pushed for re-opening of exhibitions. Exhibitions are not mass gatherings but organized gatherings with controlled access to visitors and thus exhibitions be allowed to operate with protocols. There should be gradual start from holding regional or domestic exhibitions to International post
- ITPO being the extended arm of Government can play a very significant part in reviving the MICE industry.
- ITPO should organize a model – big consumer show to demonstrate to world and to bring that confidence in exhibitors.
- Pandemic insurance and its feasibility should be focused upon.
- Survey of exhibitors and business visitors to understand their willingness to come back to exhibitions
- New visa rules need to be industry friendly. The needs of MICE industry is required to be clearly articulated to MEA so that any future Visa regime do not pose a challenge in reviving this critical sector.
- Need to create India MICE Fund to support small players in the industry. The option of MAI subsidy for domestic events for few years should also be explored.
- Need to create job loss tracker since due to COVID many companies in MICE sector viz in Hospitality or airlines are being forced to reduce their staff.
After hearing the suggestions from the Industry Stakeholders, the Chairperson IMA, gave closing remarks which are briefly as under :-
- He suggested to work towards a date to restart MICE industry keeping in view the landscape of the COVID scenario which is evolving and unfolding. He stipulated that by 5th June there will be some clarity on domestic air travel, trains, cross border movements within States etc. All suggestions from various segments should be ready by this time and then Govt. may be approached after 15th June with a case for re-opening of exhibitions from a future suitable date.
- To build a set of non-negotiable standard operating protocols for organizers, venue providers, exhibitors, buyers and service providers.
- Appoint nodal persons in each segment to streamline and coordinate the work ahead. Each segment convener of IMA to arrive at one common SOPs for the industry. This job should be completed in next two weeks.
- Exhibitors and business buyers are essential elements of an exhibition. They might be having issues about participating in an exhibition. Organizers should have a dialogue with them to know about their concerns and what is their response on re-opening. The IMA can initiate questionnaires for organizers in this regard.
- India MICE Alliance should articulate and reach out to Ministry of External Affairs to define a criterion for facilitating the right kind of visas for B2B Events/ Exhibitions/ Conferences in the new visa framework.
- IMA should try to negotiate with Insurance companies to get something for MICE sector especially for future exhibitions.
- Data collection of MICE is also important to reflect the strength of our sector and win the support of the policy makers.
Key Take away & Way forward:
- A standardized SOP for organizers, venue providers, exhibitors, buyers and service providers as per international standards to be prepared by IMA and submit it to ITPO for final approval.
- A charter of suggestions and demand to be prepared by IMA to be submitted to the Government through the Chairperson.
- Appoint nodal persons in each segment to streamline and coordinate the work ahead.
- As part of the questionnaire from the Industry, the IMA to collect data with reference to MICE sector such as job losses, loss to the business etc. and a consolidated report be prepared to submit to the policy makers.
- Ministry of External Affairs to define a criterion for facilitating the right kind of visas for B2B Events/ Exhibitions/ Conferences in the new visa framework.
All the participants expressed hope and enthusiasm in bringing back the MICE industry on track.