Macau’s Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industry is in deep trouble. Alan Ho, chairman of the Macau Convention & Exhibition Association, was quoted by Macao Daily News as saying the situation is “in a state of constant flux” due to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide. Given that the industry’s events are not just aimed at mainland visitors, like the casinos are, but globally-oriented, the industry will inevitably be deeply affected.
There are about 1,500 conference and exhibition projects held in Macau each year. Already, around half of them will be canceled outright, while the other half are currently being postponed to the second half of the year.
Not all is lost, however. Those that are basically just like seminars, where a speaker addresses an audience, are able to shift to online business models. Exhibitions, however, are much harder to adapt. By their nature, they involve negotiation, displays and in-person communication. Most of these, therefore, have chosen to postpone, even if it means losing some of their audience who cannot match a new schedule.
Industry contacts approached by Macao Daily News said they estimated annual business volumes for the industry this year will drop by around 40%. If the epidemic is not brought under control “soon”, this number will likely rise, they said.
Locally oriented events can be more flexible. Timing is less of an issue, so they can afford to wait and see what happens, and decide on a new date for their event based on prevailing conditions. Moreover, most apparently say they can maintain local employment, without the need for layoffs, as long as they can hold their events by May.
The local media group added its own view to the article, saying, “It is recommended that all sectors work together to provide services and introduce incentives to stimulate the economy, such as promoting hotel discounts, and putting on performances, so as to attract more projects to be held in Macau”. On the other hand, Macao Daily noted that in order to encourage local domestic demand, the authorities are expected to launch a series of carnivals and other consumer-focused activities “in the future”.