The Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition (MICE) industry generated $752 billion in revenue in 2016 and is projected to reach $1,245 billion by 2023[i]. Many cities across the world are strategically positioned as the MICE destination in their regions, attracting millions of business visitors each year. Seoul, South Korea, for instance, hosted 526 meetings in 2016, up from 494 in 2015 (up 4.97%) ranking number 3 MICE city in the world according to International Meetings Statistics Report released by the Union of International Associations (UIA)[ii]. Sadly, only about 2% of the global $7 trillion value of MICE industry is captured by African cities[iii]. Cape Town, Nairobi, Rabat, Cairo, Kigali are the most preferred destinations MICE in Africa.
MICE are big business and play an important role in supporting other businesses in the host city. MICE promote investment, trade, communications, and technology. It brings education and professional development to a city and creates several jobs. According to data from the Rwanda Development Board, hosting the 27th African Union Summit pumped an estimated $4.2 million into the Rwandan economy while some $2.4 million was received from the World Economic Forum[iv]. The MICE industry when developed can create the jobs much needed to deal with the growing unemployment in the country.
Accra is the host of most MICE events in Ghana. However, due to limited capacities of the major venues in Accra such as the International Conference Center; traffic congestion, high crime rate and other reasons, Accra is becoming less attractive to Global MICE events. This presents an opportunity for the country to develop other cities as alternatives to take advantage of the value of the MICE industry. Ghana can learn from South Korea that has developed ten (10) other MICE cities that offer tailored events to business travelers aside its capital, Seoul. Daejeon for instance hosts technology related MICE events while Jeju opens its doors to cultural and nature-related MICE events.
Ho, the regional capital of the Volta Region has a huge tourism and MICE potential waiting to be tapped. Nested in between Mount Adaklu and Mount Galenukui or Togo Atakora Range, bustling with cool hostels and natural destinations, Ho can best be described as the green city of Ghana. Ho offers a unique blend of business, convenience, hospitality, and leisure, suitable for a MICE destination. Here are reasons why Ho ticks every box when it comes to MICE destination in Ghana and should be developed.
A welcoming city
“Woezor” means welcome in Ewe, the local dialect in Ho. The city has everything one will need to have a productive, comfortable and awesome MICE experience. Ho has an excellent record in public safety and security. Business travelers can walk around freely at night without worrying about their safety. The quality of life is also high with a clean environment, green landscapes, unpolluted air, state-of-the health facilities and many more. Ho can boost of two four-star hotels (sky plus and Volta Serene hotel) and 8 other decent hotels that can accommodate hundreds of business travelers in the city. With a booming student population as a result of the establishment of a Health and Allied Science University in the city, several Hostel facilities are springing up that can offer additional rooms for low budget MICE events at specific times. The above notwithstanding, there are unique locations available for development into various categories of hotels to accommodate the increased inflows when Ho becomes the MICE destination in Ghana. Most importantly the people are welcoming and offer great services that can make MICE events memorable.
A convenient transport system
Ho is one of the closest regional capitals to Accra. It is just about two hours drive from the Accra Airport. With the completion of the Ho aerodrome, it will even become faster to connect to Accra.
Getting stacked in traffic and finding it difficult to find your way around a city makes it less ideal for a great MICE destination. It is very easy to move around in Ho since there is no traffic. Clean and affordable Taxis with flat rates dominate the public transport system. The internal road network is well paved while most eateries and busy areas are within walking distance.
Nature and Cultural Incentive Programs
Need to take your business team outdoors to build camaraderie? Ho offers many options. There are several open parks that can host camps, aerobic and open games. For hiking lovers, the 600m Adaklu Mountain and Kabaka hills offer an adrenalin-filled climbing experience. Also, the Amedzofe Mountain, which is only 25 minutes drive from Ho, offers another thrilling hiking experience for mountain lovers. Photography and wildlife enthusiast would find the Adaklu Mountain breathtaking at dawn and at night. Nightlife in Ho bustles with several activities in clubs, pubs and food joints. Water and boat experiences, Sogakope is only about 35 minutes drive from Ho. It offers several water-based games and fun activities including a spa on the Volta River. There is also the Volta Regional Museum in the center of Ho, which displays the rich history and culture of the people of the Volta Region.
Although Ho is strategically placed to become Ghana’ preferred MICE destination, deliberate efforts must be made on the part of government through the Ministry of Tourism and the local authorizes to invest and market the city. The first step is to recognize the MICE opportunity in Ho and then craft a clear strategy to exploit its potential. The Korean Government in 2009 officially identified the MICE Industry as one of the 17 New Growth Engine Industries of their economy in a bid to transition from its past of a manufacturing led growth[v]. Last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government allocated a KRW 10 billion to an aggressive “see-you-in-Seoul” plan to elevate the city’s MICE industry, which it identifies as a future core industry[vi]. The above and the remarkable story of MICE industry in Rwanda are examples of how priority and strategy at all levels is required to reap the benefits of MICE industry.
Awesome event spaces make a MICE event unforgettable. Ho has two main event spaces; the GNAT teacher’s hall and the Afeti Multipurpose Auditorium that can take about 3000 people. The limited capacity notwithstanding, Ho has vast lands available in the city for the constructions of mega multipurpose conventions and auditoriums that can host all type of global MICE events.
Ho is ready to welcome the world.
Co-Founder of Node Hub, A digital Innovation Hub that provides inclusive innovation space, business incubation, digital skills training and co-working space for entrepreneurs in Ho