Delhi NCR gets busier

More corporate and association meetings are headed for the capital region, drawn by its better infrastructure and business potential.

The illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan, The official home of the president, in Delhi, India

Business events held in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) has recorded an eight to 10 per cent year-on-year growth, and its positive performance has been attributed to infrastructure development, as well as the country’s growing appeal as a source market for businesses.

Mahesh Iyer, executive director & chief executive officer, Thomas Cook (India), told TTGmice that “a lot of global companies are now looking to have their board meeting in the (Delhi NCR)”, drawn to India’s many business opportunities.

The illuminated Rashtrapati Bhavan, The official home of the president, in Delhi, India

Raj Rana, chief executive officer, South Asia, CEO (South Asia), Radisson Hotel Group, has also reported a growing demand for corporate meetings and international congress events in the region.

According to ICCA’s 2017 ranking of meetings cities, New Delhi took 41st position globally with 59 meetings. ICCA also placed India at 24th spot, up from 31st, in the worldwide country rankings and fifth spot, up from seventh, on the Asia-Pacific charts.

“India Convention and Promotion Bureau (ICPB) is working towards making India one of the top ten convention destinations globally. Delhi NCR, with its MICE venues like Pragati Maidan and hospitality districts like Delhi Aerocity, will play an important role in achieving this goal,” remarked Chander Mansharamani, managing director of Alpcord Network Travel & Conferences; who is also vice chairman of ICPB.

Delhi NCR’s capability as a business events destination will gain a boost with a planned renovation of Pragati Maidan to turn it into a world-class, state-of-the-art integrated convention and exhibition centre. The refreshed Pragati Maidan is slated for completion in June 2019, and will offer 30 meeting rooms of various sizes as well, an exhibition wing with seven modern exhibition halls, pre-function areas, and an integrated F&B facility in every hall.

As well, the Indian Union Cabinet has recently approved a proposal to lease out 1.5 hectares of land at Pragati Maidan to a private player for the construction of a hotel.

This venue may finally put to rest Indian business events stakeholders’ complaints of the lack of a venue in Delhi NCR that can host mega conventions.

Anitha Niranjan, managing director, CIM Global, said her company had previously lost bids for international conferences because of the limited venues in the destination, adding that Delhi NCR is in need of an international standard convention centre that comes with a world-class hotel.

“(The improved) Pragati Maidan will help to better position Delhi NCR as a destination for international business events,” she added.

For now, Delhi NCR is keeping busy with a number of international trade events. Recent events held in the region include the International Pharma and Healthcare Exhibition 2018, Taiwan Expo 2018 and Asia Rubber Expo.

The Indian government is also throwing its support behind the positioning of Delhi NCR as the hub for business events, by organising many international tradeshows, such as the 11th India Digital Summit, that are aligned with its initiatives like Digital India, Start Up India and Skill India.

“Segments like medicine, information technology, defence and science are bringing conferences and exhibitions to Delhi NCR,” noted Mansharamani.

Going forward, the Indian tourism ministry is contemplating ways to incentivise event organisers that choose to take their events to India, such as by offering to host gala dinners.

However, Mansharamani said Delhi NCR needs to do more to “grow the incentive business”, and his views are echoed by some of his peers.

“Delhi NCR boasts many good hotels, rich heritage and culture. Unfortunately, Delhi is often used as a stopover by incentive groups that move on to nearby destinations like Jaipur and Agra. A focused destination marketing campaign showcasing what Delhi has to offer to incentive groups is needed to grow this business segment,” urged Arun Anand, managing director, Midtown Travel.

Delhi NCR’s popularity among clients is also affected by international coverage on the region’s rising pollution levels, according to a representative of a Delhi NCR-headquartered PCO who has requested anonymity.

“We have received many enquiries from our clients who wanted to know how bad the air quality is in the national capital. One of them eventually shifted his event to a nearby destination,” said the representative.

This article was first published on TTGmice August 2018

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