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M.I.C.E in Lagos as presented by Amb. Ikechi Uko

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Image result for ikeshi uko picturesM.I.C.E (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences/Conventions and Exhibitions/Events) and creative Content as tourism sector panacea The background and growth of M.I.C.E and creative economy tourism in Lagos, over the years.

MICE definition
The acronym might be falling out of favor, and some push to call it the meetings industry or the events industry.

Components of MICE Travel
MICE travel involves a number of components. Agents working in this area must provide a full range of travel and conference services for large and small groups and events of shorter and longer duration. The players in the MICE field include corporate meeting planners, meetings and convention departments of hotels, conference centres or cruise ships, food and beverage managers, logistics firms, private tour operators and transfer companies, incentive houses, professional trade organizations, tourism boards, tourism trade associations, and travel-selling professionals.

Meeting

The International Association of Professional Congress Organizers defines a meeting as any number of people coming together in one place for a particular activity. It can be a one-time event or it might recur regularly.

Incentives
Most components of MICE are well understood, perhaps with the exception of incentives. Incentive tourism is usually undertaken as a type of employee reward by a company or institution for targets met or exceeded, or a job well done. Unlike the other types of MICE tourism, incentive tourism is usually conducted purely for entertainment, rather than professional or education purposes. Incentive travel is given to employees as a reward. It doesn’t usually have a business or explicit educational component but instead is more of a non-business vacation with the aim of continued motivation for performance. It might involve the family of the employee or it could be a reward for a workgroup.

Conferences are
Conference: Participatory meeting designed for discussion, fact-finding, problem solving and consultation. As compared with a congress, a conference is normally smaller in scale and more select in character – features which tend to facilitate the exchange of information. The term “conference” carries no special connotation as to frequency. Though not inherently limited in time, conferences are usually of limited duration with specific objectives.

Congresses are
The IAPCO Meeting Industry Terminology publication, which is used a “dictionary for the congress industry”, uses the following definitions: Congress: Regular coming together on a representational basis of several hundreds – or even thousands – of individuals belonging to a single professional, cultural, religious or other group. A congress is often convened to discuss a particular subject. Contributions to the presentation and discussion of the subject matter come only from members of the
organising body. Frequency: usually established in advance and can be either multiannual or annual. Most international or world congresses are of the former type while national congresses are more frequently held annually. A congress will often last several days and have several simultaneous sessions.

Exhibitions are
Exhibitions Travel
At an exhibition, products or services are displayed, and they might be the primary focus of the event. Other conferences and events might also have an exhibition as one of the components. Businesses court new clients and debut their latest offerings at these events.

Events are
Sports, Arts, Music, Film etc. This is the sweet spot for Lagos State. LAGOS is not a successful destination in the Global Ranking of MICE… Below is the global ranking by the foremost organization for Business Tourism ICCA The international Congress and Convention Association.

Ranking by Countries in Africa

Ranking by Cities in AFRICA

What have other countries done or are doing now
South Africa in September 2017 decided to target 6 areas for MICE development
1. Business Process outsourcing which will include Financial services, Insurance etc.
2. Manufacturing
3. Creative Industry. Film, Video, Music and Craft
4. ICT
5. Mining and Metals.

Today MICE is driving Tourism growth in Africa. Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda are crediting the industry for the growth of Tourism in 2017. Today if you notice most events are heading to Kigali and Accra. With the new Airport in VICTORIA Falls and the exit of Uncle Bob Mugabe Zimbabwe with be the big player along with its poor Neighbour Zambia. While the Scramble for Meetings are going on in AFRICA LAGOS has to take advantage of its natural assets to play in the coming years. You do very well in Areas where you have a Natural Comparative advantage. Here is where LAGOS comes in. Africa’s center of Cool. Brand power, value for money because of devaluated currency and great night life. In the Creative Economy which encompasses the Arts LAGOS might well the Natural creative Capital of AFRICA. Despite the fact that most of our products are not captured in Organised Data it is a known fact that Nigerian Nollywood is the leading Movie production Centre in Africa and the dance halls of AFRICA are driven by Nigerian Music. So we can lay claim to be the entertainment Capital of AFRICA.

2. Leveraging M.I.C.E and creative economy as veritable tools to grow the entire tourism industry. The beautiful thing about MICE is the fact that it is usually obligatory travel so People who would not naturally be disposed to visiting your Country will be forced to attend if they are really devotees or members of that Organization. LAGOS started building its capacity to compete in the events and Exhibition category with the arrival of the Eko Convention Centre. This 5000 seater hall became the game changer for LAGOS. Automatically you can count LAGOS as a contender in hosting entertainment events and today along with Landmark Centre LAGOS seek to host exhibitions and events. For LAGOS for join the Big league of MICE, we should concentrate on arrears where we are well disposed to thrive. In the MICE spectrum we can chase the Events, Exhibitions and the Congresses. Our specific areas based on the already existing audience and our infrastructure should be
A. Creative Arts. Including Music e.g. AFRIMA, Movies e.g. AMMA and LAGOS Film Festival, Fashion is one that needs a headline event as LAGOS is the trend setter in that Area. Arise Fashion Show is a good one. A craft and art event should emerge.
B. Financial Services …with some of Africa’s largest banks the Material medical exists for this too
C. Religious Congresses.. it is a known fact that the biggest Churches in AFRICA are all based in Nigeria. So this is the lowest hanging fruit, already they draw huge audience.
D. Telecoms. Huge opportunity as the largest Subscriber base in AFRICA reside here.
E. Sports. With such a huge population of travelling sports lovers LAGOS can act as a pull
Centre for sport events.
F. Travel and Tourism. With the largest travel population outside South Africa LAGOS should be a Travel Hub and the Success of Akwaaba Travel Market attest to that.
Combining what we have to get what we want is to Use the Popularity of Nollywood, Our Musicians and the Cool label of LAGOS to draw the missing Tourism fruits. To achieve this there steps that need to be taken LAGOS needs a Convention Bureau to organize and Market the city as a destination to attract these events. Convention Bureaus Subsidize events and assist in attracting more people. Recently Air INDIA started flying to Israel through Iran and Israeli Tourism Board has to subsidize the promotions of the flights and EL Air the Israeli Airline had to protest because its flights are longer as it is not allowed to fly through Arab Airspace. This is an
example where a Convention Bureau is up to speed with its role. Rwanda is already in that space.

My event in Ghana Accra Weizo gets the financial support from the Government of Ghana. The next step for LAGOS is to create Clusters of events and prioritize. Choose one or two of the events and support. Support one that is already successful so it can grow in Scale. You cannot support all. Top 15 events covering different areas in a year is ok to start with now. After that scale this Event and drive them as the leading events in the region. Already LAGOS is pushing forward along that line with the Calendar of events already published but the events have to be categorized and Optimized with ranking so that the state does not dissipate its resources
> c. Highlight of the different aspects of creative economy. (Visual arts, fashion, music, theatre arts etc.) – give examples
> d. The various M.I.C.E offerings in the state. (Sitting capacity of major event/convention center’s, programmes that cause large inflow of tourists, etc)

The obstacles to successful development of MICE will include access, LAGOS is one of the most connected cities in Africa with daily flights to the leading capitals of the World. With the absence of a national Carrier and a strong indigenous Airline it depends on 3rd party Airlines to bring in the Visitors. This increases cost as Airlines will offer cheaper flights for packages outbound to their destinations and not inbound.
Visa is also another Obstacle to visitor numbers but that is on the Federal Government list to address.
Facilities
With massive Road infrastructure and rising number of Quality hotel rooms LAGOS can host a medium sized event. The largest Centre can host 5000 people seated at once so with a total of 40’000 square meters of Space shared among the top 15 event centers in LAGOS and 6000 3star Rooms available in LAGOS it can host multiple events of different sizes every month. Our research shows the Top 20 Hotels and the Top 10 event centers with the following

LAGOS now needs to make sure the Hotels are of international standards, rate and grade them and make sure the Top venues measure up to standards. Culture and Absence of Tourism assets LAGOS is the only water bound City I know that has no public waterfront. No Marina for Promenade, No Corniche, No Cardo Maximus as the Romans calls its high street. We live in LAGOS but do not have access to the waterfront anywhere. LAGOS Island has no Waterfront, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Ikoyi and now Barbeach. So we are a state of Aquatic Splendour only by Mouth. That should change create a Boardwalk and a Promenade for Lagosian at Yaba, Oworoshoki, Epe, Ikorodu, Ijora and Apapa. These are Tourism draws. Water is the biggest source of Tourism income in Africa. So LAGOS can start by organizing what is already on ground choosing the Top 15 events
that have survived 3-5 years, from the Identified areas of Music, Movies, Religion, Fashion, Tourism, Financial Services, Sports, Food and Telecom and package them for International consumption in 2019 and 2020 and by 2021 LAGOS would have learnt enough to start bidding for Mega international events. We are ready and the World is ready for us. Let’s go, let’s go Lagos, Let’s go now.

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