The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector has a bigger role to play in measuring and promoting sustainable travel according to Stewart Moore of EarthCheck.
The MICE sector represents big business, delivering major economic benefits that are a key contributor to the growth in tourism and leisure development worldwide. And the benefits from MICE extend far beyond the actual hosting of the event, with trade opportunities being generated in both host and visitor countries: tourism represents 5% of global GDP and contributes to more than 8% of total employment.
“The sheer size and reach of the tourism and travel sector now gives it a substantial voice, but it is important to recognise that you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” EarthCheck CEO and founder, Stewart Moore said.
Mr Moore said he is surprised that MICE operators and tourism groups worldwide, who are doing excellent work in sustainability, seem to be still hesitant to share their stories.
“As an industry we can’t take action on future water, waste and energy initiatives if we don’t understand what we are using now.
“Sustainability initiatives can provide a point of difference for all events and become part of a rewarding experience for business travellers and their guests,” Mr Moore said.
“This includes initiatives which support the delivery of local cuisine and wine, local entertainment and arts and cultural events.”
Tourism and destination marketing and management now go hand in hand with event marketing. Destination support services, activities and attractions remain an important factor when meeting planners choose a venue, because delegates want to go to a destination that offers comfortable and clean hotel accommodation, good food and wine, local entertainment and other facilities that they can use when the conference is over.
“Smart organisations excel at guiding guests through the hotel, resort or centre’s sustainability story, giving them a role to play in conservation and community initiatives and empowering them to recognise that they play an important part of the environmental solution,” Mr Moore said.
“Whilst the industry has generally done a good job in raising awareness of the need for responsible tourism growth and development, every operator should commit to collecting sufficient data to understand their operational footprint, and the data needs to be accurately collected and benchmarked to allow them to understand how they are performing against their peers and their own business plan expectations.”
One way MICE organisers can do this is by using the Hotel Footprinting Tool  which shows the average carbon footprint per room, stay or meeting for a particular destination.
Given the size and environmental footprint of business and event tourism it is important that the destination works with the convention centre and event organisers to ensure that events deliver a triple bottom line outcome for the local community - in other words positive social and environmental benefits which can sit beside economic returns.
EarthCheck released ‘EventCheck’ to assist and guide MICE venues with an effective framework for event organisers, clients and suppliers to measure, minimise and eliminate the environmental, social and economic impacts of events.
Through EarthCheck Certification, the world’s leading convention and entertainment centres are now making a strategic commitment to establish sustainability plans that not only reduce their impact on the environment, but also contribute to building more livable and caring communities with deliberate planning and a dedicated focus on destination management.
The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) achieved EarthCheck Gold Certification in 2017, recognising seven consecutive years compliance of the highest environmental standards for best practice in the key areas of:
- Energy consumption;
- Greenhouse gas emissions;
- Water savings; and
- Waste sent to landfill.
BCEC was also named The World’s Best Convention Centre by the International Association of Congress Centres. The prestigious award followed BCEC’s success in hosting one of the world’s most significant business events, the G20 Summit.
Mexico’s Centro Citibanamex achieved EarthCheck Gold Certification in 2017 recognising eight consecutive years’ compliance of the highest environmental standards for best practice. Their community work exemplifies their dedication and commitment to corporate social responsibility including a reforestation programme that encourages staff to plant trees, and a food redistribution programme, in partnership with La Tablée des Chefs, to mitigate food waste and food insecurity in the local community. In addition Centro Citibanamex was named “Best Convention Centre in Mexico” from 2006-2012 by Destinos and Convenciones.
Since 1987, EarthCheck has helped businesses, communities and governments to coordinate a more strategic approach to destination management by delivering clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play. Most importantly everything that EarthCheck undertakes is underpinned by evidence based scientific data and performance based metrics. For further information visit earthcheck.org