An expo on the meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) sector kicked off in Istanbul Wednesday.
This year's ACE of MICE expo - its 6th annual outing - is hosting over 250 purchasing agents from 41 countries, said Volkan Ataman, the head of the event organizer Tourism Media Group.
The three-day event at Istanbul Congress Center is expected to attract some 15,000 visitors this year, he noted. "The MICE industry is the top sector of the tourism sector by revenue," he explained.
Over the last five year, the ACE of MICE expo attracted nearly 94,000 visitors coming to see some 1,500 exhibitors and attend over 37,000 business-to-business meetings, he said.
Around 50 experts will give speeches in 28 sessions during the expo, which will be sponsored by Turkish Airlines (THY).
Fettah Tamince, the chair of Rixos Hotels, said the MICE sector serves as insurance for the accommodation sector. "Turkey has important structures and experience in the tourism sector," he said, adding that Turkey needs better facilities - especially in Istanbul - to host bigger exhibitions.
Bahadir Yaşik, a board member of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (İTO), said the expo is an opportunity to promote Istanbul and Turkey's tourism sector. "Tourism is a locomotive for Turkey and Istanbul's economy. We need to boost Istanbul's share of the world tourism sector," he added.
According to Istanbul Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, a total of 13.4 million foreign tourists came to Istanbul in 2018, up by 24 percent compared to 2017, when a total of 10.8 million foreign visitors arrived in the city.
Hamdi Usta, Istanbul's vice governor, said that while most tourists spend $500 on average, for congress tourists this figure rises by more than 500 percent.
Congress tourism's share in all tourism fields has reached 30 percent, he added. "The rate of capacity utilization of the Istanbul accommodation sector is around 35-40 percent on average," he said.