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IFTM online training programme in collaboration with UNWTO
Capacity Building for Sustainable Tourism through the Meetings Industry
12/23/2022 088/REL/RP/2022

The Global Centre of Tourism Education and Training of the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), in collaboration with United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), successfully held virtually its fourteenth training programme on 5 – 7 Dec 2022 on “Capacity Building for Sustainable Tourism through the Meetings Industry”.

This training programme was specifically designed for decision makers in ministries and administrations of UNWTO Member States in Asia and the Pacific. Thirty-seven participants from twelve member states participated, namely Bangladesh, Brunei, D.P.R. Korea, Fiji, Iran, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Macao SAR participated in the programme.

The meetings industry ranges from ‘business events’ to the ‘conferences sector’, commonly referred to ‘the MICE industry’ in Asia and ‘the MEEC industry’ in the Americas, or sometimes just commonly called the ‘exhibitions industry’. The meetings industry also involves many other types of events such as variety shows and performances, team building and training activities, incentive experiences and catered events such as gala dinners and themed nights.

Six outstanding specialists delivered talks during the 3-day training. On Day 1, Dr. Sherry Tan of Macao Institute for Tourism Studies and Ms. Synthia Chan, Chairperson of Macau Fair and Trade Association provided wider, strategic-level topics involving considerations in organising and bidding events for destinations. On Day 2, Dr. Hazel Xu of Macao Institute for Tourism Studies and Ms. Paulina Pereira Che, Vice President, Convention and Exhibition of Sands China Limited discussed operational topics which influence the feasibility and outcomes of business events, both financially and environmentally, through the lessons on how to utilise limited event resources to organise a successful event. On Day 3, two world-renowned international academics, Dr. Julie Whitfield of Bournemouth University and Prof. Brendon Knott of Cape Peninsula University of Technology shared their experience and insights with the participants in holding international conference and hybrid events. This 3-day programme aimed to shed light on perspectives related to developing the meetings industry as part of a destination’s tourism portfolio, one that attracts local, regional and international delegates.

The three-day programme was moderated by Prof. Wilco Chan, Dr. Joe Zhou and Dr. Ubaldino Couto of Macao Institute for Tourism Studies who had engaged interactive dialogues between the speakers and the participants, created an invaluable learning platform for all, filled with many insightful and thought-provoking discussions.

Participants provided invaluable feedback and praised the programme contents and expert speakers. One of the participants from Sri Lanka commented that “All the learning sessions are very important to us since the Sri Lanka is practicing MICE tourism. Organising hybrid events, sustainable approaches on MICE tourism considering all social, economic, cultural and environmental aspects, finding a host for international conferences, improving of destination image for business events etc., are important and very useful.” Another participant from Myanmar added that “All I have learnt from this training are useful and beneficial for my country. Although our country is not a developed one, we successfully hosted many international events… I’ve learned what we need to improve if we have a chance to host [more] meetings and conferences [in the future]”.

Preceding this edition was the 13th IFTM-UNWTO training programme on “Capacity Building for Sustainable Tourism through Festivals and Events” held on 24-26 May 2022. Both of these training programmes themed on the events industry were curated by Dr. Ubaldino Couto, Coordinator for Tourism Event Management programmes at the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies. During his closing remarks, he concluded that “these training programmes are instrumental to destinations considering to develop the events industry using their innate resources. Cultural tourism, convention and exhibition is one of Macao’s four main industries. These training programmes encourage knowledge transfer and collaborations with UNWTO in particular are excellent ways for us to open dialogue and contemplate how we can do better, and as importantly, benefit from opportunities given to us through national and regional economic initiatives”

The Global Centre of Tourism Education and Training Centre was set up in 2016 following a memorandum of understanding signed between the Macao SAR Government and UNWTO. The agreement covered topics including the enhancement of human capital for the tourism industry and the promotion of sustainable tourism. The Centre has hosted more than 40 programmes, including 14 collaboration with UNWTO and other aggregated training activities, with around 632 participants from 38 countries and regions who have been involved in the Centre’s training activities.

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