Global destination and event management company Pacific World has released the next instalment of its annual emerging destinations report at IMEX 2019 in Frankfurt.
After a successful inaugural release last year, the report again shines a spotlight on emerging destinations for the current and upcoming years. There were three destinations chosen for 2019: Qingdao, Aix-en-Provence and Valencia; and for 2020, three of the four are in Asia: Incheon, Gujarat, and Inle Lake in Myanmar.
Pacific World’s research links upcoming government investments in infrastructure, appetite from corporations for under-explored destinations and a selection of event venues that facilitate deeper engagement and meaningful experiences that would lead to driving stronger business results.
“We all know what’s possible today, but what are the places that are rising in popularity; destinations who have invested in developing capacities catering to the business events industry,” said Selina Sinclair, global managing director of Pacific World.
“Incentive travel today is multi-generational. Exploration, uniqueness, authenticity and traveling outside of comfort zones are key factors for creating effective and engaging meetings and incentives programmes. As we look ahead and consider the next generation of audiences, we take into consideration things like Instagram-ability, authentic engagement opportunities and access to undiscovered experiences.”
Emerging destinations for 2019
Several elements factor into Pacific World’s assessment for determining the potential for a destination: what are the government’s plans to improve or enhance accessibility, hotel and venue infrastructure? Does it have interesting and eclectic venue options that could be opened up for MICE groups? Are there opportunities for engagement and interactions with local industry and communities to create meaningful content? With this in mind, the selections are below:
One of the top ten most modern and economically successful cities in the world, Qingdao has become one of the most active MICE cities in China. With the seventh largest seaport in the world, Qingdao has lots to offer for businesses considering future travel programmes.
Qingdao offers curated experiences, such as the Taoism Experience, which teaches guests about Taoism while they enjoy stunning views at Mount Lao, China’s largest coastal mountain range. Food enthusiasts will enjoy the Qingdao Dumplings Experience, which teaches visitors how to make the famous Jiaozi dumplings.
The city also features impressive event spaces including the Qingdao Beer Museum, a world-famous brewing and manufacturing enterprise, and the new Lalu Qingdao China, an exquisite five-star property with stunning sea views, private beach area and outstanding seafood.
A picture-perfect city in the south of France that was the inspiration for much of Paul Cezanne’s paintings, Aix-en-Provence is a great choice for corporate retreats and intimate groups. The city is stylish and vibrant, and is known for exceptional cuisine, chateaux, chapels and beautiful historic buildings – a perfect formula for delivering engaging experiences.
The city offers venues such as the Le Carrieres de Lumieres (Quarries of Lights) located near the village of Baux-de-Provence, a temporary art exhibition projecting works of art onto stone walls, the Caumont Museum, and curated experiences like a Catamaran sail around the breathtaking Calanques cliffs.
Additionally, it offers access to many charming, little-known villages where attendees can discover the real soul of the South of France and have meaningful interactions with the locals. The city also offers convenient access to Cannes, Nice and Saint-Tropez.
According to Pacific World’s 2019 Most In-Demand Destinations Report, Valencia is the third most visited destination in Spain and one of the top four most demanded destinations worldwide. The city is gaining in popularity as visitors discover it as an alternative to Barcelona and Madrid. Over the past three years, international arrivals to Valencia have increased by 47.5 percent.
Valencia should be on the radar for companies planning future meeting and incentive travel programs given its strong incentive travel infrastructure that is supported by nearly 5,000 hotel rooms, making it easy to manage a sizable group around the city.
Known for its futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia is also a gastronomic and culture hub where incentive groups can immerse in the Spanish lifestyle and enjoy distinctive event venues. It offers potential for curated experiences, such as the Rooftop Gastronomic Experience, an exclusive dinner party on one of the city’s many rooftop spaces, or a tour of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia opera house, one of the most celebrated buildings in the world.
Destinations for 2020 and beyond
Pacific World has also compiled a list of destinations to look out for; locations that will develop further over the next few years to become more popular in the meetings and incentives industry.
Incheon, South Korea
The third largest city in South Korea, Incheon offers world class conference centres and hotels and is easily accessible with daily international flights to Incheon Airport. Incheon features the second largest harbour in South Korea and remnants of the Japanese Colonial period buildings.
Songdo, the newer part of the city, has been developed since early 2000 and is famous for its futuristic architecture and eco-friendly designs, including ample green space and a push to eliminate cars. Venues like the Songdo Convensia make Songdo the perfect location for large groups.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
Surrounded by small fishing villages and the Shan Mountains, Inle Lake is rich in culture and tradition. The city has worked to protect the lake, environment and local culture. The natural, slow pace of life makes Inle Lake the ideal destination for relaxing meditation and wellness retreats.The lake is easily accessible at just 41km from Heho Airport in Yangon.
The former home to Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat is a historic coastal town and spiritual destination where visitors can experience a variety of rituals, cuisines, festivals and celebrations. It features diverse topography ranging from deep green dense forests to stark white salt plains.
Ahmedabad, the capital, is home to international hotels and venues, including The Arena by TransStadia. Gujarat is accessible via Ahmedabad International Airport.
Located on a beautiful waterfront, Liverpool is an informal conference destination with impressive sporting, musical, historic and artistic cultural offerings.
It's an affordable alternative to London with many exceptional event venues such as The Titanic Rum House, which beautiful views of the waterfront, and the Liverpool Cathedral, a historic venue ideal for awards presentations or galas. Liverpool is accessible from 220 flight locations worldwide, and rail from London is just two hours.