A roof big enough

A roof big enough

MICE in India faces severe infrastructural challenges and the Prime Minister Hon’ble Narendra Modi acknowledges the same. MICE INDIA shares an industry story

Business India | January 2015

MICE INDIA – Challenges

vigyan bhawan make in india

Modi Make in India Signature Campaign launched at Vigyan Bhawan

On 25 September 2014, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi left for his maiden visit to the US, he launched his ambitious ‘Make in India’ campaign, which was attended by leading global CEOs at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan plenary hall. Modi noticed that the 1,200 seat hall was choc-a-bloc with the ‘who’s who’ of the Indian industry and business houses compelling him to tender his apology, “First of all, let me apologies to you all. I have observed that various business leaders have to stand, as there are not enough chairs; extremely sorry for the inconvenience.”

A few months earlier, on 26 May 2014, Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India on the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan – the ceremony being attended by leaders of neighbouring SAARC countries and other distinguished gathering of over 4,000 guests, which included corporate honchos, former presidents, parliamentarians, diplomats, foreign dignitaries, bureaucrats, sports persons, entertainers and Bollywood celebrities – sitting under the oppressive sun, bearing the heat and humidity. This highlighted a major shortcoming of India’s capital – it does not have single conference venue to accommodate more than 2,500 people at any given time; New Delhi’s Ashok Hotel Convention Centre can accommodate 2,500, while the Taj Palace Hotel can seat only about 1,000 people.

“There is an argument that the Indian capital city needs perhaps more than one world-class convention centre,” says Anil Bhandari, former CMD, ITDC, whose stint included managing the Ashok Hotels chain.

India, while gaining the growing attention of the global business community, has been long deprived of large international convention centres – mostly due to various governmental and regulatory issues, land scarcity, corruption in various departments and continuing government indifference. The country should have been able to become a major international centre for conferences and conventions, feels Narinder Suri, another former official of ITDC. “It’s a shame,” he adds, “that many event organisers in the South East Asia seem to be inclined to host events in India, they have only one venue to consider – and that is the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC). As a result, the unique distinction of being the largest convention centre in the country goes to HICC, which at any given time can host 5,000 of more delegates,” says Suri.

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“With India gaining all attention for its various events globally, it should have been one of the largest hubs for convention centres in the world,” says Neil Paterson, general manager, Accor-Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre and HICC, managed by the French hospitality giant Accor, which manages over 3,600 hotel and convention properties across the world. HICC is rated as a major convention centre in South East Asia for hosting events such as engineering science, technology, physical life sciences, exhibitions, humanities, maths and statistics, health and medicine, MICE-related activities, arts culture, music, entertainment, award ceremonies and even weddings.

Hyderabad tops

Today, Hyderabad hosts some of the most important international conventions held in India. The primary reason for this is that Hyderabad lies within two-hour flight distance from all major Indian cities and four-hour flight distance from the Middle East and South East Asia. The Hyderabad International Airport is strategically located at the centre of India. It is now also transforming into one of the busiest air travel hubs in the country and an important destination-cum transit bridging the East and the West.

HICC

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HICC-Hyderabad-Plenary Hall

Situated on a sprawling 15 acre landscape, HICC has a massive internal hall – a pillar free architecture measuring 6,480 sq mtrs that can hold a 5,000 delegate-strong plenary and can be portioned into six smaller halls. It has 32 breakout rooms and VIP lounges, which are equipped with world class AV, Wi-Fi and also has an in-house five-Star banqueting service. The three floor property has 32 fire exits and is equipped with the latest technology in smoke detectors, fire alarm and sprinkler systems, with CCTVs all over the facility.

“The property is also helping us at Accor-Novotel in developing ‘Brand Hyderabad’ to world’s leading event organisers,” says Paterson. The hosting of events such as XI Metropolis World Congress, World Congress on Biotechnology, Pravasi Bharat Divas, World Telecommunication Development Conference, Asian Development Bank meeting, International World Web Conference, World Congress on Pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs and many more since 2006 at the HICC venue bears testimony to this. According to a senior executive at Novotel, HICC’s business alone is adding an average annual revenue of up to $34 million to Hyderabad’s economy.

HICC-Hyderabad-Board-Room

HICC-Hyderabad-Board-Room

According to the hospitality industry sources, spurred by the success of HICC Accor has plans to make major investments to develop more convention centres across the country. “Yes,” says Paterson, “We are looking at promoting several other properties in India.” Sources also aver that Accor will be unveiling new investment plans in the third quarter of 2015.

Accor might also be looking at the proposed mega convention centre at Dwarka in New Delhi, and also at the India Trade Promotion Organisation’s (ITPO) convention-cum-exhibition centre at Pragati Maidan. There are several other properties as well. “ The government’s decision on Dwarka and Pragati Maidan convention centres have been pending for the past 8-10 years and the construction of the two must start immediately,” says Bhandari.

Source: Business India | 5-18 January 2015 issue

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