Portugal aims to grow MICE business from Asia

Lisbon (pictured) pleases with both old and new attractions, great shopping, and feasting. Photo credit: Turismo de Lisboa

Business events from Asia to Portugal are currently low compared with Europe and North America, but Turismo de Portugal is working hard to attract more Asian planners and participants.

“Post-pandemic trends of smaller groups and more frequent business events favour destinations like Portugal. Holding association and corporate events throughout the year also helps to mitigate seasonality and disperse demand geographically,” said Joaquim Pires, head of MICE, Turismo de Portugal.

Lisbon (pictured) pleases with both old and new attractions, great shopping, and feasting. Photo credit: Turismo de Lisboa

While medical and association congresses and mega-events such as Web Summit already draw many Asian attendees, incentive travel programmes have yet to catch on. Distance and flight scarcity – the only direct services are from China – are stumbling blocks.

Generally, Asian events are longer than those from Europe and North America. They range from vehicle launches, board of directors’ meetings and retreats to teambuilding programmes. Currently, incentive travel demand is mainly from India, which values competitive, high-quality products and local DMC expertise.

“Safety, quality in the hotel offer, gastronomy and built and natural heritage are some reasons for Portugal being considered one of the best MICE destinations, supported by international recognition in world and European rankings,” said Pires.

While big groups focus on the Lisbon and Porto regions, small, high-end incentives of 20 to 50 pax may also take in other areas, so the business team is pitching to various target audiences at IMEX Frankfurt from May 23-25.

Regional destinations include Obidos, which has an annual chocolate festival, mediaeval fair and recently hosted its first international gaming convention; and Sesimbra’s proposition of a medieval castle and church visit, cruising on a traditional fishing boat and on-shore seafood lunch.

Another option is Estremoz – in the Alentejo wine-growing region – which combines well with historic Evora. Bacalhoa Wine Group’s private tour of the spectacular tile collection in Berardo Museum Estremoz and Quinta do Carmo winery with tasting and meal catering can cater for 30 pax.

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