Meetings, dropped its ranking from 32nd to 58th

Meetings, Incentives,
Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) have shown a rapid potential for growth in
the tourism industry at large (Kim et al., 2008). Each year, there are
approximately 31,000 exhibitions globally with 4,4 million exhibitors and 260
million visitors (UFI, 2014). The total amount of
exhibition space available around the world continues to grow (UFI, 2017), and to many Asian-Pacific countries, MICE
has been acknowledged as the industry of the future (Huang, 2004). Asia-Pacific now offers more exhibition
venue space than North America, and the average size of Asia-Pacific venues is
bigger than in any other region (UFI,
2017). Vietnam ranked 15th among Asia-Pacific and 50th
globally as a venue, and Ho Chi Minh City was ranked 58th among
Asia-Pacific (International Congress and Convention Association ICCA, 2016). ICCA
(2016) also reported a continuous increase in the number of exhibitions held in
Vietnam in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular since 2000. Vietnam’s
MICE industry greatly attributes such success to overseas participants as their
attendance benefits both event organizers and the hosting location (Zhang,
Leung, & Qu, 2007). In 2016, Vietnam welcomed 10 million foreign tourists,
25% of which were MICE tourists, who yielded 30% of total 417 thousand billion
dong revenue (Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, 2014). Given such
figures, Vietnam was reported to be one of the outperformers in South East Asia
(Business Strategies Group BSG, 2017).

However, despite such massive increases in the number of MICE
tourists and industry turnover, the gross figure for Ho Chi Minh City still
falls far behind in comparison with neighboring cities. Ho Chi Minh City has
dropped its ranking from 32nd to 58th in 2014 among Asia –
Pacific cities, while three other ASEAN destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok
and Kuala Lumpur remain among the top 10 MICE cities worldwide (ICCA, 2015). This
shows while other countries have paid special attention to MICE industry, Ho
Chi Minh City has rather fallen behind despite its potential. It is supposedly due
to the shortage of awareness and limited infrastructure and facilities compared
to neighboring countries (Tran Ly Tra Mi, 2012). Given the heightened need to
develop Ho Chi Minh City’s MICE industry, it is critical for more research to be
done in order to shed new light on resource allocation, management and policies.

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It is also important to conduct further research into Middle
Eastern MICE business travelers to Vietnam. The Middle East is a
transcontinental region, consisting of countries in Southwest Asia and part of
North Africa (World Bank, 2017) with different economic levels ranging from
very poor – such as Yemen or Gaza, to highly developed – such as Qatar and
United Arab Emirates UAE (IMF, 2017). Trade between Vietnam and the Middle
East was reported to witness a strong recovery with total trade volume reaching
US$12.8 billion in 2017, up 17.4% from US$10.9 billion in 2016 (Ministry of
Industry and Trade MOIT, 2017). The export turnover reached US$9.6 billion to
the entire Middle East and US$8.6 billion to the main markets in the region. The
import turnover totaled US$3.2 billion from the entire region and US$2.85
billion from key markets, up 3.16% from 2016 (General Statistics Office Of
Vietnam GSO, 2016). Vietnam’s most frequent Middle Eastern business partners
include Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar (MOIT, 2017).

Under this increased trade relation, companies from the Middle East are increasingly
becoming potential business partners contributing to MICE industry. In fact, it
is reported that the Vietnam’s trade promotion programs have helped organize MICE
trips to Iran, Turkey, UAE, Dubai and Kuwait as well as workshops and
exhibitions in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Lam Dong where Middle Eastern
companies come to exhibit (MOIT, 2017). Therefore, the need to study Middle
Eastern MICE business travelers is difficult to ignore.

All in all, the study “Motivation
factors influencing attendance at trade exhibitions in Ho Chi Minh City among
Middle Eastern exhibitors” is chosen and aims to help harness the
competitive advantages of Vietnam’s MICE industry, especially towards the
Middle East. This will provide exhibition organizers with valuable information
concerning locations, venues, potential cooperating partners and
hospitality-related service, so that they can establish their management strategies