National Research University Higher School of Economics
Valery Gordin, Polina Kamenskaya
Utilizing cultural attractions to promote MICE destinations
The present study addresses the question of how convention bureaus utilize destinations’ cultural heritage in order to promote them on the MICE tourism marketplace using official websites. The study has examined 17 cities that are MICE tourism leaders located in Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin and North America, Africa, and the Middle East. The cities were selected based on the number of business meetings held in 2017 in each city according to the ICCA Association Database. Saint Petersburg, Russia was included as well. Including disparate locations has afforded us with a global outlook on the role of culture in promoting MICE tourism destinations. We have analyzed the official websites of convention bureaus and, using web crawling, have examined the word frequency of culture-related vocabulary in destination descriptions. Based on the UNWTO classification, we subdivided 34 cultural aspects into 4 main categories: a. tangible heritage, b. intangible heritage, c. contemporary culture, d. art industries and other cultural activities. In total, 7,075,261 words from 17 official websites of convention bureaus were analyzed. To compare the target word frequencies, the number of culture-related words was divided by the total number of website words. According to our results, the most frequently used category is intangible heritage, which includes “art” (16,876 mentions), “culture/cultural” (2,249), “gastronomy” (1,540) and “tradition/traditional” (1,117). We found 1,735 mentions in the “museum” subcategory of tangible heritage and 1,013 mentions in the “film” subcategory of creative industries. The results show that there is no direct correlation between the number of business meetings and that of culture-related words used on convention bureau websites. The leading cities in MICE tourism rankings – Barcelona, Vienna, Paris – which occupy 1st, 2nd and 3rd spots, respectively, were found to occupy 11th, 4th and 7th spots, respectively, in terms of the number of cultural aspects mentioned on their websites. But Toronto, St. Petersburg and Abu Dhabi, ranked 12th, 15th and 14th in MICE, were in 1st, 2nd and 5th spots, respectively, in terms of the number of mentioned cultural aspects. This finding shows that these cities aim to boost their attractiveness for MICE tourism by mentioning cultural aspects on their websites.