Event planners and corporations in Asia are slowly incorporating green ideas in their itineraries, but there is still a long way to go before they can be widely accepted by the meeting, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector.
The need to conserve and protect the environment has increased over the past few years, creating a steadily growing demand for green MICE globally, says Greg James, general manager of HRG Singapore, a corporate travel management company.
James says green ideas are frequently seen in meetings and conventions, such as going paperless or using eco-friendly materials to build booths, and companies in the technology and luxury industries have been keen to follow this trend.
He adds that many green ideas come under corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, focusing on giving back to the community and society, such as helping senior citizens with household chores or hiking at nature reserves to promote healthy living.
But the uptake of these ideas is still slow in Asia, where the MICE industry is still developing and many activities are held for commercial purposes, according to David Ong, general manager of Off-Site Connections Event Management.
'Commercialism is still dictating the bulk of the business in this part of the world, and education and awareness on green initiatives are not as widely accepted or promoted. Providers and end users are conservative and do not want to take unnecessary risks to do things differently,' he says.
Ong notes that increasingly MICE planners and corporations are beginning to be more aware of green initiatives, and some are integrating them into their own CSR programmes. For example, an incentive or conference group heading to a beach resort would incorporate a beach clean-up activity.
In Hong Kong, event planners, such as Momentous Asia Travel & Events Company, are following the green trend closely.
'Many tropical destinations in Southeast Asia are offering eco-tours, but we can also minimise carbon emission by offering more walking and hiking tours in city destinations such as Hong Kong,' says general manager Doris Lam.
Last December, as part of a conference programme, the company organised a historical walking tour for a group 100 to Hong Kong's Central District.