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Goa is good for MICE business but it must maintain its essence, say leading Goa GMs at Express Food & Hospitality expo

The GMs Conclave panel discussion at the 36th edition of Express Food & Hospitality Expo, threw light on the opportunities and shortcomings of Goa as a MICE destination.

Followed by the inaugural ceremony, the Goa edition of Express Food & Hospitality Expo conducted the GMs Conclave, discussing trends, drivers and opportunities in the hospitality industry. The panel discussion was titled, `Goa as a MICE market’.

The esteemed panelists included Gaura Apte, GM, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa; Pracilo Dsilva, GM, Resort Rio; Ranju Singh, Complex GM, Novotel Goa Shrem & Novotel Goa Resort and Spa; Shridhar Nair, GM, The Leela Goa; Hasanullah, GM, Lemon Tree Beach Amarante Goa; Cajetan Araujo, GM, W Goa; Rajendran Menon, GM, The Zuri White Sands Goa Resort & Casino; Rajeev Kumar, GM, The Fern Kadamba; Rajesh Malliya, GM, Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa; Victor Soares, Sr GM, Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim Beach and Gagan Sharma, GM, Lemon Tree Hotel Candolim, Goa.

Starting the panel discussion, Nair remarked, “It is true that Goa has seen tremendous growth in the MICE segment since the past 8-10 years. MICE has been 35 per cent for us and we are expecting it to cross the 42 per cent mark of our business. We now have plans to expand the MICE facilities to cater to the whole segment. Goa gets about seven to eight per cent of business and we are expecting it to grow at 11-12 per cent. We want to increase the share of MICE.”

Apte remarked that they have upped their focus on the MICE market. “At Goa Marriott Resort and Spa we were making 25 per cent from MICE market last year, and have taken efforts to achieve 38-39 per cent of business from the MICE segment this year. It is no more true that MICE is price conscious, ” he said.

Menon added that the hotel used to receive 20 per cent of the business from MICE earlier, which has now gone up to 40-44 per cent for Zuri in Goa. He further added, “ Earlier MICE was only seen as an off-season segment in Goa but that is not the case now.”

Another five years down the line weddings and MICE as a segment will account for the majority business segment for the hotel, he remarked.

He further added the result of general elections 2019 will have an impact on the hospitality industry in Goa.

Speaking about the importance of rebranding the hotel Hyatt Centric Candolim Goa, Malliya said that the hotel had earlier a share of only 12-15 per cent of MICE market, but with the rebranding and putting in new facilities for MICE in the hotel, in just three months since the opening of India’s second Hyatt Centric branded property, the brand has grown which is predicted to be at around 28 per cent. MICE plays an important role for us.

Interestingly, Dsilva said, “With the decreasing Charter business and increasing discounts offered by OTAs, MICE is the segment that needs to be focussed upon in Goa.”

“Ours being a business hotel, 70 per cent of the business comes from MICE,” said Kumar.

Speaking on infrastructure challenges, Hasanullah remarked that the whole of the Goa market still lacks the infrastructure required to host MICE segments. “South Goa has a lot of potential for this segment considering the supply and amenities of services in infrastructure.”

Nair spoke on this mentioning that as compared to the global MICE destination, Goa still has a long way to go in which majorly a dedicated international airport, better transport connectivity, and also a large convention centre, have an important role to play. A Public-Private Partnership (PPL) to build a convention centre would go a long way in Goa. The government is cognizant about the shortcoming, but some involvement from the private sector as well is required, he said.

Apte added to his point stating that a sharing airport with defence forces accounts for no peak hour morning flights to Goa which becomes difficult for the hotels to set the check-in and check-out timing for the guests. Hence, a dedicated airport is needed. He also pointed out hat the road connectivity being so expensive and despite the Goa Miles coming in, is it effective enough for the guests? Having one more airport, it will definitely ease out the pressure.

Singh contributed that the power supply is also an important aspect to look at because the Goa market has long durations of load-shedding due to which they have to bear the costs of maintaining a generator runs for 5-6 hours. Hence, power and Road connectivity is critical, which needs to be looked into seriously, appeals Singh.

Soares feels that MICE is all good from the business perspective, but when it comes to the preservation of the age-old charm of Goa, it needs to be maintained.

Agreeing with him, Araujo remarked, “We have to be mindful about promoting the state. We need to able to sustain what Goa was, is and should be. We need to know that if it loses its charm it will be like any other Tier-II city.”

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