MACAU welcomed six fewer events during the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2011, reflecting a sustained downward trend in its quarterly MICE performance.
In 4Q2011, the destination registered 272 events, 108 fewer than the same quarter the year before.
Although its events count is down, Macau saw an increase in the total number of event attendees. Events in 1Q2012 attracted 161,781 attendees, representing a 26-per cent year-on-year increase.
Hong Kong-based C&E Conference and Exhibition Management general manager, Clemson Lo, who observed a drop in meetings and incentive enquiries for Macau over the past six months ‚Äď which he attributed to the destination‚Äôs rising hotel room and venue rental rates ‚Äď said the stronger attendance figures could have included day visitors from China.
Off-Site Connections Events Solutions managing director, Peter Hassall, blamed the decrease in MICE events on a ‚Äúglobally suppressed market‚ÄĚ.
Hassall added: ‚ÄúThe total number of participants (in 1Q2012) may have increased because of two major exhibitions held in the first quarter. More than 15,000 people attended each exhibition, which makes up almost 20 per cent of the total participants registered in Q1. As Macau (adds) more venues, hopefully we will continue to see (more of) such large-scale events hosted here.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) has also seen a slowdown in applications for its extended Incentive Travel Stimulation Programme, which offers support to event organisers throughout 2012.
According to an MGTO spokesperson, 55 incentive travel groups with a total of 19,439 participants were approved in 2011. In the first four months of 2012, only 16 groups with a total of 6,786 participants were approved.
The spokesperson attributed the decline to global economic instability in the last quarter, and added that ‚Äúsigns of an economic recovery‚ÄĚ and new attractions in Macau would bring about a boost in application numbers for the rest of the year.