MICE Tourism looks to revival, post-IFFK success
Kochi: Curtains came down on the Kochi leg of the 25th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) on Sunday after a week-long extravaganza of films from across the world. The celebrations, however, are set to continue for the economic arena of the city. Thanks to the IFFK, the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) Tourism scenario is seeing a revival, even in these Covid times.
Industry spokespersons are hoping that MICE Tourism, which has been stalled for a year, will be revived after it became clear that events such as film festivals could be safely organized if Covid protocols are strictly adhered to. Till the pandemic took over, Kochi used to be one of the most important destinations in India for Mice Tourism. In a bid to maximize the potential of this tourism segment, many entrepreneurs had also invested heavily in the region by building hotels and conference halls with five-star facilities.
Going by the figures available, the national and international conferences with attendance of up to 1000 people were held in Kochi several times a year, till the advent of the Covid-19. Finding hotel rooms and taxis had been a tough proposition when events were organized in the city and its suburbs.
And, when the virus struck, the tourism industry was dealt with a body blow. The fact is that most of the players in the MICE Tourism had been frustrated over the realization that it could take years for the pandemic situation to wane, and conferences to return.
However, with the success of the conferences and events such as IFFK organized adhering to social distancing and strict Covid protocols, confidence seems to be coming back to Kochi’ s tourism industry. Travel industry stakeholders are unanimous in saying that Kochi may be able to get itself started in full force, though not immediately.
Health could be tourism’ s wealth
Kerala had gained global attention for its efforts in the health sector when the Covid pandemic raged. The tourism industry is now looking to ride the positive wave created across the global arena by the state’ s health sector. The post-Covid tourism sector is sure to tap the potential offered by the health-conscious state. Entrepreneurs in Kochi have begun urging the people to come forward to reap the advantage of opportunities coming up in the city and its neighbouring districts. They point out that the mortality rate among Covid victims has been relatively low in Kerala, and that the tradition of offering the best treatment to all, including foreigners, will benefit the state’ s industry as well.
More money in MICE
MICE tourists spend more money than regular leisure traveller. It is estimated that a conference tourist spends $1400-1500 while a regular tourist spends $500 per day. Though there is a long way to go before normalcy returns to the tourism segment in Kochi, the successful conduct of the IFFK in the city would trigger growth, say experts. The film festival was the largest conference-exhibition event organized in the state during the past one year.
The film festival has proved good for smaller businesses too. . Local traders are finding the film carnival encouraging. IFFK has brought good news to the Kochi Metro City, says P.M Rasheed, who runs a juice and snacks shop close to the Saritha theatre complex. “ Due to the Covid pandemic, theatres had remained shut. But now, IFFK has brought new hope for business. In the last 5 days business has increased to double,” he adds. Salim Thottavam, another snack shop owner, echoes Rasheed’ s views, saying: “IFFK has ushered in a festive mood in Kochi. The crowds bring in a new hope for business”.
As Chalachitra Academy Chairman Kamal pointed out, no one who attended the film festival in Thiruvananthapuram had reported contracting Covid. The festival has provided a new boost to the state’ s efforts to bring normal life back on track. In addition, it has also provided a booster dose to the ailing economic scenario. The travel industry will look toward riding this aspect to inject life into MICE Tourism in the days to come.