The European market potential for MICE tourism (2023)

MICE tourism includes travel to meetings (M), incentives (I), conferences (C) and trade fairs (E), of which the conference market is the most lucrative. Great Britain and Germany are the largest European markets. However, the approach to this market is fundamentally different from that of leisure tourism. As a company, you can participate in moderating the event yourself or take part in the leisure program before, during and/or after the event. This leisure part offers interesting opportunities, because more and more delegates want to extend their visit to the destination. To generate interest, you need to offer products and services that are sustainable.

content of this page

  1. Product description
  2. What makes Europe an interesting market for MICE tourism?
  3. Which European countries offer the most opportunities for MICE tourism?
  4. What trends offer opportunities in the European market for MICE tourism?

1.Product description

MICE tourism refers to business trips for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.These are organized to achieve a wide range of business, academic, professional or cultural goals.The acronym MICE uniquely identifies the components of the market as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Components of MICE tourism

The European market potential for MICE tourism (1)

MICE tourism is a niche within business tourism. However, the word business is to be interpreted broadly. This also includes public bodies, semi-public bodies such as non-governmental organizations, associations, universities and any other type of organization.

MICE tourism is a form of tourism in which large groups of people come together in a specific place and for a specific reason, such as mutual interest. Therefore, it can also be considered as a special type of group tourism. When meetings are held with a large group of people, they are usually held in convention centers.

In recent years, the term MICE has lost popularity. It is also increasingly referred to as the meetings industry or event industry.

As a company, you could help run MICE events. This means you can contribute by providing all kinds of creative services such as: B. Signposts, banners, exhibit displays, kiosks/exhibit spaces, event photography, event marketing, sponsorship management, audiovisual/technical production, group air fulfillment, on-site event logistics and staffing, vendor management, virtual meetings and risk management services.

(Video) What Is MICE Tourism? | Investigating The Business Tourism Industry


  • Contribute to an event by providing a social program before, during and after the formal event. Make sure attendees of MICE events at your destination don't just fly to your country for a three-day conference, try to extend their travel and try to avoid overlaps with other niche tourism markets such as tourismcultural tourism,adventure tourism,nature tourism, orwellness tourism. Since the preparation and planning of a MICE event takes a lot of time, even several years, you have to take a proactive attitude and realize that you have to invest years before you can reap the fruits of your efforts.

2.What makes Europe an interesting market for MICE tourism?

The MICE market is the most important source of revenue in the tourism industry. Globally, its value was $805 billion in 2017, $916 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $1,439 billion in 2025 and $1,780 billion in 2030. So, the global market shows continuous growth – with a decline in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a number of factors driving the growth of MICE tourism. Table 1 lists some of these factors.

Table 1: Factors driving and inhibiting MICE tourism growth

demand factors

Supply and mediation factors

Business sector growth

Growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) activity.

Spread of small and medium-sized enterprises

Growth of international business travel

growth of global tourism

Increase in the frequency of MICE events such as meeting activities around the globe

Growth of MICE industry activities (both companies and individuals)

Increasing investment in infrastructure development and technological advances

Increase in internet penetration

Increasing acceptance of smart devices

Digitization of travel payments

All MICE niches are on the rise and (before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic) it was expected that this growth would continue in the future. But globally, the meetings niche is the largest of the four. In 2017, it accounted for $505.8 billion in revenue.

The European MICE market is the largest in the world

Europe dominates the global MICE market with a 50% market share and is expected to maintain this position through 2030. Also in terms of the number of conference participants from international associations, Europe is the largest market in the world. In 2000, 6% of all outbound travel from Europe was related to MICE. Of the outbound MICE trips, 48% went to the conference/congress/seminar niche and 42% to trade fairs/tradeTrade fairs and 10% on incentives (unfortunately, numbers about meetings were not registered).

The European MICE market is not only attractive because it is large and growing. It is important to note that MICE tourism has a positive impact on the growth of businesses, cities and destinations as it is an influential and significant economic driver because:

  • Business travelers spend more in a short period of time than leisure travelers (but they're also more demanding!).
  • MICE events serve as networking opportunities for all companies involved, thus having a positive impact on many other industries and especially the local tourism industry.
  • Professional contact and the exchange of knowledge promote creativity and innovation.
  • MICE events can boost the local job market.
  • MICE event attendees can extend their stay to enjoy their free time at the destination, while also choosing to return later with their partner, family or friends for a vacation.
  • Since MICE tourism in Europe is not tied to the regular tourism seasons, MICE events are particularly welcome in the off-season of tourism.
  • MICE tourism can enhance a destination's reputation.

So, the European MICE market is a very lucrative and profitable type of tourism that offers great opportunities for every destination.

Conferences are the jewel in the crown of MICE to focus on because they are the most lucrative. A good example are conferences of international associations, such as for architects or cardiologists. They can attract up to 30,000 visitors. If you are in a country that is already known for leisure tourism and has an attractive climate, that is an advantage. The decisive infrastructure of flight connections, airports and hotels should already be in place. They make your travel destination attractive for incentive trips. Tanzania is a good example of such an incentive destination.

As the MICE sector increasingly seeks unique and memorable experiences, new MICE destinations are emerging that may become more important than before. Countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia are paying increasing attention to incoming MICE tourism. A country like Egypt has built up its infrastructure and is seeing growth in MICE tourism. Note that how your country has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic will be a factor in the decision-making process of MICE event organizers. This is a disadvantage for emerging destinations.

So that destinations open their doors to MICE,A convention bureau must be set up. This is an essential step in marketing and branding the destination, which is different from leisure and vacation marketing. In fact, a convention bureau is a destination management organization (DMO), but it is different from tourism DMOs. The size of a convention bureau is not necessarily large. It could be one person. They are usually staffed by locals. The skills of the men and women who work there determine their success.

(Video) MICE Sector

ThatConvention Bureau in Kenyabeing set up is a good example. It puts the country on the map as a MICE destination.Namibia,RwandaandEthiopiahave recently entered the market with brand new convention bureaus. The focus of these convention offices is on conferences (international associations) and incentives.

Important aspects for planners and participants in the MICE market are location, quality, experience value and sustainability. These are important requirements that you need to bring to your destination in order to be attractive for the European MICE market. When it comes to the location, accessibility, security and sufficient capacity are particularly important.

Quality refers to facilities such as customer service, security and reliable transport, clean and comfortable accommodation, good catering and conference rooms with excellent technical infrastructure. Experience value refers to a place that offers a unique and unforgettable experience at a reasonable price, for example through an exciting leisure program before and/or after the formal part of the programme.


  • Make sure you focus on quality, experience value and sustainability.
  • Attend classes atMICE Academy in Africa, if you can, to learn about the MICE industry and build the skills required, or by attending an event or eventsICCA(International Congress and Convention Association) that you learn from pretty quickly. It is good to know that the MICE industry is quite a cooperative and collaborative industry where contacts are easily made.
  • Stay up to datehow to respond to COVID-19and furtherhow to deal with the effects of COVID-19.

3.Which European countries offer the most opportunities for MICE tourism?

The share of European countries is quite stable. Great Britain and Germany have been the largest source markets for MICE and business travel in Europe for years. The UK market tops the list with 4.5 million outbound MICE trips per year, followed directly by the German market with 3.3 million MICE trips. France follows these two leaders with 1.6 million MICE trips. Switzerland (a non-EU country), Spain and Italy rank lower with a similar share of 1.1 million, 1.1 million and 1.0 million outbound MICE trips, respectively.

Note: Data for Spain is from 2000, the other data is from 2012.

United Kingdom

The UK is the top origin country for outbound MICE tourism. In 2012, the country counted 4.5 million outbound MICE trips. Although the data on the distribution of this travel across MICE niches is 10 years old, it is likely that the majority of outbound MICE travel is for meetings and incentives, as the number of MICE travel to conferences and trade shows is relatively small .

The UK market looks promising for leisure small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) with 29% of business travelers surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic looking to extend their stay to enjoy leisure at their destination in the future.

Table 2: Some UK MICE statistics

Foreign travel expenses for business and professional trips in billions of euros (2019)

No data available

Outbound MICE trips (2012)

4.5 million

Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound trips


Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound business trips (2000)


Number of I trips (incentives) (2000)

No data available

Number of trips abroad (conference, congress or seminar) (2000)

0.4 million

Number of outgoing e-trips (exhibitions or trade fairs) (2000)

0.4 million

Share of travelers who would like to take the opportunity to extend business trips to have free time at the destination (2021)



With 3.3 million trips in 2012, the German outbound MICE market is the second largest. In Germany, outbound MICE trips make up more than a third of all outbound business trips (35%). Although the data in the table is incomplete, meetings and conferences are likely to be the largest contributors to outbound MICE travel.

Companies, mainly from the finance, insurance, pharmaceutical and automotive sectors, have a large share of the outbound MICE market and spend large budgets on events and incentives. These industries mostly organize kick-off events, conferences and meetings. In 2018, intercontinental events accounted for 20.8%, a 4.6% growth in 10 years. Only 15% of travelers surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic say they plan to extend their business trip at their destination for leisure.

(Video) GSTC2022: Sustainable MICE

Table 3: Some MICE statistics for Germany

Foreign travel expenses for business and professional trips in billions of euros (2019)

26,0 Mrd. €

Outbound MICE trips (2012)

3.3 million

Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound trips


Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound business trips (2000)


Number of I trips (incentives) (2000)

0.4 million

Number of trips abroad (conference, congress or seminar) (2000)

1.7 million

Number of outgoing e-trips (exhibitions or trade fairs) (2000)

No data available

Percentage of travelers who want to take the opportunity to extend business travel to have free time at their destination



France is the third largest MICE market in Europe in terms of outbound trips, but the size is much smaller (1.6 million outbound trips) than the UK (4.5 million) and Germany (3.3 million). The French MICE market accounts for a large proportion of outbound business trips (40%). Although data for France is incomplete, travel to trade fairs and conferences is expected to account for the largest share, while travel to meetings and incentives makes a rather small contribution. One in five travelers surveyed during the COVID-19 pandemic say they would like to add some free time to their business trip.

Table 4: Some MICE statistics of France

Foreign travel expenses for business and professional trips in billions of euros (2019)

9.8 billion euros

Outbound MICE trips (2012)

1.6 million

Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound trips


Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound business trips (2000)


Number of I trips (incentives) (2000)

No data available

Number of trips abroad (conference, congress or seminar) (2000)

0,7 Mio

Number of outgoing e-trips (exhibitions or trade fairs) (2000)

1,0 Mio

Percentage of travelers who want to take the opportunity to extend business travel to have free time at their destination



The market size of outbound MICE tourism in Spain in 2000 was 1.1 million trips. Compared to the other countries in the top 5, MICE tourism has a very large share of total business tourism: 74%. Data for Spain are incomplete, but the table shows that outbound conference and exhibition travel is likely to account for a similar share of around half a million. Spain appears to be a promising market for leisure companies, as a third of business travelers would like to add leisure activities to their business trips.

Table 5: Some MICE statistics from Spain

Foreign travel expenses for business and professional trips in billions of euros (2019)

4.5 billion euros

Outbound MICE trips (2000)

1.1 million

Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound trips


Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound business trips (2000)


Number of I trips (incentives) (2000)

0,1 Mio

Number of trips abroad (conference, congress or seminar) (2000)

No data available

Number of outgoing e-trips (exhibitions or trade fairs) (2000)

0.6 million

Percentage of travelers who want to take the opportunity to extend business travel to have free time at their destination



Italy ranks last among the top 5 European countries in terms of the size of the outbound MICE market. Its market size is almost as big as in Spain. Similar to Germany, the outbound MICE market accounts for a third of the outbound business market (34%). Incentive travel and conference travel each account for about a third of the market. The remainder is made up of trips abroad to meetings and exhibitions, although no data is available. Just like in Spain, Italian business travelers are likely to extend their future trip with leisure activities (39%), making it an interesting market for companies.

Table 6: Some MICE statistics of Italy

Foreign travel expenses for business and professional trips in billions of euros (2019)

3.6 billion euros

Outbound MICE trips (2012)

1,0 Mio

Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound trips


Share of outbound MICE trips in all outbound business trips (2000)


Number of I trips (incentives) (2000)

0.3 million

Number of trips abroad (conference, congress or seminar) (2000)

0.4 million

Number of outgoing e-trips (exhibitions or trade fairs) (2000)

No data available

Percentage of travelers who want to take the opportunity to extend business travel to have free time at their destination



  • Target associations with memberships across Europe (and beyond) to attract MICE events in the European market rather than targeting specific countries. The challenge is to participate in the bidding system and win the event, which takes place a few years in advance and requires a lot of paperwork to be done. It is a competitive bidding system, usually managed by the convention bureau. ThatICCA-Websiteprovides good reports on bid strategies. Rwanda can act as best practice, as they dida very efficient convention bureau.

4.What trends offer opportunities in the European market for MICE tourism?

Two trends in particular stand out in the MICE market: digital transformation/hybrid events and sustainable travel. These trends offer opportunities for innovative concepts.

Digital transformation and hybrid events

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted MICE tourism. Although the MICE industry had already undergone structural change through the use of social media, meeting apps and the shift towards virtual and augmented reality elements, the pandemic has driven digital transformation forward.

Many events hosted in 2020 and 2021 were offered as hybrid events and hybrid events are expected to persist and grow in proportion. Businesses, associations and potential attendees have become more cautious about international travel and because many people have lost income they may have become more reluctant to pay big bucks to attend an event physically, although they can also attend online through applications such as Zoom or teams. It can be assumed that the live portion of hybrid events will gradually increase over the years at the expense of the virtual portion. The face-to-face part can become the new luxury.

(Video) MICE Forum: Evolution of Business Travel and Incentives Market

This transformation to hybrid events is a major challenge for the entire MICE industry, for the associations as well as for the destinations, venues, congress centers, hotels, etc. It is therefore expected that the change will shake the MICE industry badly. All parties must have at least basic plans to adapt to this trend and run hybrid events. Many providers of conference and congress facilities are already reacting to the changed demand and are investing in technology for hybrid or digital formats.

The rise of hybrid events also has benefits, such as:

  • Businesses in the UK that have started experimenting with virtual events have led to a surge in business from MICE agencies.
  • Compared to traditional on-site events, hybrid events are spatially extended and not tied to a specific location. So they will be open to larger communities.
  • In normal times, the really big conferences could only be hosted by a limited number of cities because they have the appropriate rooms and hotels. As the events become hybrid and the physical presence becomes smaller, the events are open to many more destinations. New destinations can therefore apply for such events for the first time.

Travel sustainably

The increased public environmental awareness in Europe is also having an impact on MICE tourism. In fact, sustainability is now one of the main criteria for companies when choosing the right venue. For example, two-thirds of buyers and sellers in the MICE market include corporate sustainable responsibility in their incentive programs. MICE destinations should try to strike a fair balance between the economic benefits of the event and the negative social and environmental impacts of associated travel and tourism.

It's specialGeneration Y participantsand Generation Z who are aware and concerned about sustainability. For 65% of Gen Y employees, their employer's commitment to sustainability is key to their loyalty to the company. The behavior of these generations is increasingly influenced by ethics, moral values, environmental concerns, animal welfare, production and labor practices, and the desire to positively impact communities and people.

These travelers demand the availability and affordability of "green", "eco", "carbon neutral" and organic services and products. Many not only want to reduce their holiday footprint or visit a destination, but also enrich it (feel-good holidays, eco-tours).

Sustainability has become a trend in tourism and its importance will continue to evolve in the future, reinforced by the international Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and the political agenda of national governments in the EU. With the growing importance of Gen Y and Gen Z in the tourism market, the demand for more sustainable tourism experiences will increase, which will increase the pressure on companies to act.

Sustainability criteria can play an important role in the tendering process, so convention bureaus and their associated providers in the destinations need to consider aspects of sustainability in service, product, accommodation and other areas. A sustainability strategy can convey credibility and trustworthiness.

For you as a company, sustainability offers opportunities to enter the MICE market by making the connection between the formal MICE event and the local community, its nature and culture, by offering sustainable products and services, excursions, tours, etc. to the Opportunity to involve the local community in these offerings, offering unique and unforgettable experiences.

Euromonitor publishes aRanking of countries around the worldbased on sustainability of tourism. You can check this list to see how sustainable your country is compared to others. The report also lists the key persistent changes in consumer behavior by world region. The report can help your business become more sustainable and purposeful.


  • Visit theGlobal Council for Sustainable TourismWebsite that contains guidelines for developing a sustainable company.
  • Remember, customers are reluctant to pay a premium for greener products or services. You can also try to make your business or product offering more environmentally friendly and get certified.
  • Collaborate with other stakeholders at the destination, such as B. Residents and companies, also from other sectors. This can be local guides or experts, providers of local food and accommodation, local farms or factories and more (seedie Website von Tourism for SDGSfor an example in East Africa).

This study was conducted on behalf of CBI byMolgoandETFI.


Please check ourMarket Information Disclaimer.


How important are MICE in the tourism industry? ›

The MICE segment is a vital part of the hospitality industry and can generate a significant portion of a hotel's revenue. According to studies, MICE tourism makes up over 50% of business travel. Attracting MICE tourists can improve your establishment's bottom line and reputation.

What is the relationship of MICE industry to the tourism industry? ›

MICE sales are extremely beneficial and can generate a sizeable portion of a hotel's revenue. By attracting MICE tourists, you have an opportunity to boost the returns of your establishment, as well as your reputation. Studies have shown that MICE tourism makes up over fifty percent of business travel.

Is there a market for MICE? ›

The global MICE market size was estimated at USD 658.5 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 6.6% from 2022 to 2030. The market's growth is attributed to the rising demand for b-leisure trips and incentive travel.

What is the future of MICE globally? ›

The global MICE industry is anticipated to witness remarkable growth in the 2021—2028 timeframe. Rising adoption of virtual MICE meetings by businesses is driving the growth of the market. The meetings sub-segment is projected to lead the market. The Asia-Pacific market is anticipated to be at the forefront.

What are the opportunities of MICE tourism? ›

MICE tourism refers to business travel for the purposes of Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. These are organised to achieve a wide range of business, academic, professional or cultural objectives.

Why MICE is the fastest growing segment of tourism industry? ›

In general term, MICE events involve attendees who share a common interest and gather in a place to have a meeting on that same interest. This is reason why MICE popularity is growing popularity worldwide.


1. Chapter 9 - The MICE Industry Meaning and Importance
(Ma'am V)
2. MICE tourism in Laos
(Dr Hayley Stainton)
3. MBtv Debates: Reimagining MICE
(Macau Business TV)
4. MICE Conversations - Caroline Phelan, VisitBritain Meetings and Incentive Senior Manager Europe
5. Egypt’s MICE Tourism Has Great Potential
(Marcopolis Net)
6. European MICE & Travel Market - After COVID-19 (April 10, 2020)!
(Siegfried Haider)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Barbera Armstrong

Last Updated: 01/31/2023

Views: 6713

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Barbera Armstrong

Birthday: 1992-09-12

Address: Suite 993 99852 Daugherty Causeway, Ritchiehaven, VT 49630

Phone: +5026838435397

Job: National Engineer

Hobby: Listening to music, Board games, Photography, Ice skating, LARPing, Kite flying, Rugby

Introduction: My name is Barbera Armstrong, I am a lovely, delightful, cooperative, funny, enchanting, vivacious, tender person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.