Impact of COVID-19 on MICE Industry in Pakistan
Impact of Covid-19 on MICE industry:
The detrimental effects of COVID-19 are surging with each passing day from trimming down social activities to putting economic activities in jeopardy that will eventually consequent in major unemployment throughout the world. The travel and tourism industry, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), is assumed to bear a job loss of around 50 million across the globe where Asia would be the most adversely impacted region. We cannot ignore the fact that tourism industry alone contributes around 10% of global GDP. With the COVID-19 clawing up global tourism, meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions(MICE) industry is inevitable to suffer adversely.
Impact of COVID-19 on MICE Industry in Pakistan:
In Pakistan the situation is not different than the rest of the world. The implications of pandemic can be bifurcated into two main streams in the context of Pakistan. On one hand COVID-19 has swooped down upon the international trade of the country. One such example is the Post-Brexit Pakistan-UK free trade agreement that could have brought about insurmountable economic benefits for the textile industry is now at a standstill. Besides the delay of trade agreement, a complete halt in the export activities has put up a deteriorating effect on the balance of trade. On the other hand,the movement of imports has also succumbed to the same quandary making it challenging to maintain the flow of business.
The MICE industry in Pakistan has been hit hard as the nature of this business is highly dependent on the human-to-human interaction. With a social distancing approach propagated by the Government, the industry is struggling to sustain its objectives and existence as many businesses rely solely on the business trade events to generate leads. In the similar vein, exhibitions such as International Exhibition for Garment, Textile Machinery and Accessories (IGATEX)run by FAKT Exhibitions had a phenomenal input towards infusing not merely industry related benefits but promoting tourism and a progressive image of Pakistan is deemed to be postponed.
Many exhibitions and conferences akin to IGATEX has faced the same fate due to social distancing and locked down imposed for an unprecedented time period by the Pakistani Government. In the wake of such catastrophic events, a stark proliferation of virtual events and exhibitions has been observed throughout the world. Such manoeuvres stir up the much-debated questions on the viability of virtual exhibitions as the future of MICE industry. How virtual exhibitions would impact the businesses worldwide and Pakistan in particular? Are we ready for this change?Are we ready to explore these question and deal with the baggage it brings?It’s an entirely different debate!
Local authorities’ regulation for the MICE industry:
The moot point is the current condition of Pakistan, engulfed in huge foreign debts, with a dilapidated health system and wavering economy, is vividly unequipped to curtail the grave impact of COVID-19 on the MICE industry. Reason being the fact that Pakistan is a third world nation where its’ priority is ensuring the provision of basic life necessities to the public.
The health system of the country is devoid of modern equipment and sufficient space to accommodate the plethora of COVID-19 patients surging and multiplying every day. Many countries such as UK and US have turned their Expo Centres into hospital wards for COVID-19 struck patients.
Federal government in corporation with the local governments of all the four provinces are taking prudent steps to curb out the disasters of the pandemic. One such example is the appropriate usage of Expo centres. To cater the scarcity of beds for the growing number of patients, Punjab government and Sindh government has decided upon establishing 1000 and 2000 bedded field hospital in Expo International Centre Lahore and Karachi, respectively, for the confirmed patients of COVID-19.
It is apparent that the government is actively taking measures to normalize business activates in Pakistan and as soon as things get better the MICE industry will effectively start functioning on the same pace as before.To use the exhibition spaces for accommodating COVID patients seems to be the most effective use of the ideal spaces by the government.What do you think?
Author : Huma Gul