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NEWSFLASH October 2018

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October 2018
In This Edition

Left Column

Featured: Rwanda – Africa’s safest country celebrates Kwita Izina

Hosted Buyer Invitation to MICE West Africa Forum & Expo Accra,Ghana 

Cuba: U.S. State Department reduces warnings to travel advisory level 2

Dominican Republic: Punta Cana International Airport Debuts New VIP Lounge with Infinity Pool

The Netherlands, Amsterdam: QO Amsterdam - Now open

South Africa - Township® Fair Trade bags to expand in Europe, North America and the UAE

UK: ICC Wales offers site tours ahead of 2019 opening

Right Column

Five experiences coming to life at IMEX America

UK, London: Venue Expansion - etc. Venues

USA, Arizona: Verde Canyon Railroad

USA, Lexington, KY: Breaking Ground on New Convention Center

USA, Knab, Utah: Kanab’s First Convention Center, The Kanab Center, to Open November 2018

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IMEX America is quickly approaching and we take the opportunity to pick-up on some North American developments that you may wish to investigate further at IMEX.

But first, please join me looking at the African Continent. We brought a report about the upcoming Kwita Izina – the mountain gorilla naming ceremony in Rwanda and the related Conservation and Tourism Conference and Expo. Please see our update about the exciting new opportunities in Rwanda and don’t miss the chance to meet the Rwandan team at IMEX!

Hosted Buyer Event: MICE West Africa Forum & Expo in Accra, Ghana! Are you interested in learning more about Western Africa? Then you should apply to the hosted buyer programme! The event takes place from 13 to 15 December and offers 2 full days of pre-event site inspections! Please see the details below!

2 Years ago, we introduced the South African NGO Township Pattern in MICE:destination. See how they are doing today.

News from the Caribbean include the reduction of the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisory to level 2 and a new VIP lounge featuring an infinity pool at Punta Cana International Airport.

In Europe, we’re looking to Amsterdam – the new IHG hotel QO Amsterdam is now open. In the UK, see an Update on ICC Wales and the article about the venue expansion of London’s etc.Venues.

And – as promised, we’re looking to the US and future convention centers in Lexington, Kentucky and Knab, Utah. And in case you’re looking for a transportation venue – check the Verde Canyon Railroad.

Best regards

Martina Warter
General Manager & Publisher
MICE Media Marketing
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Featured: Rwanda – Africa’s safest country celebrates Kwita Izina
Meet Rwanda Convention Bure

at IMEX America

Kwita Izina (translated as naming), is a Gorilla naming ceremony and a uniquely Rwandan event which was introduced in 2004 with the aim of creating awareness of conservation efforts for the endangered mountain gorillas. During the annual ‘Kwita Izina’ ceremony, Baby Gorillas are given names. 23 Baby mountain gorillas were named this year.

Like any other prominent events, Kwita Izina attracts thousands of people across the world to witness the naming of the Baby Gorillas. This year’s Kwita Izina attracted over thousands conservationists both international and local.

As Kwita Izina endures to go further and beyond in terms of awareness, so has the growth in numbers of conservationists. Even more to say, growth in numbers of MICE infrastructure and facilities have been evident as so, to accommodate the growing numbers of tourists.

Over the last 14 years, Kwita Izina has attracted investors who have taken the initiative to establish high-end lodges in the foothills of Musanze where the naming ceremony takes place.

Lodges such as Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge which won the World Winner for Hotel Interior Architecture at the Versailles Awards World Ceremony, Amakoro Songa Lodge, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge, Virunga Lodge, Mountain Viewl odge, 5 Volcanoes boutique Hotel– additionally to Singita Kwitonda Lodge under development, and One and Only Gorilla’s Nest Lodge set to establish its premises by end of 2019.

Wilderness Safari Bisate Lodge:
Amakoro Lodge:
Singita Kwitonda Lodge:
One and Only Gorilla’s Nest:

Did you know? The World Economic Forum report 2017 states Rwanda as the safest African country and the 9th safest country in the world.

Meet Rwanda Convention Bureau and Rwandan suppliers at IMEX America, booth A4308, appointment link

Meeting Guide Berlin Service + Planning About us Blog

Make your appointment with visitBerlin, Berlin Convention Office

A new multifunctional hall in Berlin
Berlin is the place to be for conferences, events and meetings. With the construction of an additional multifunctional hall, hub27, Berlin is strengthening its position in the international trade fair and convention sector. The new hall – scheduled to be completed by April 2019 – will provide 10,000 m². Highlight is the roof terrace overlooking Berlin. VR showroom:

New long-haul routes connect Berlin with North America
From June 2019, American Airlines will operate a non-stop flight between Philadelphia and Berlin. Primera Air will fly daily to New York, Boston is served four times and Toronto three times a week. This will make the German capital easier to reach for travellers from North America.

The visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office ( and our partners look forward to meeting you at booth B3832.

IMEX America takes place from 16 - 18 October 2018 at Sands Expo, Las Vegas, NV, USA.
Make your appointment with visitBerlin on

Hosted Buyer Invitation to MICE West Africa Forum & Expo Accra, Ghana

Akwaaba means welcome

This December, the 3rd MICE West Africa Forum & Expo will take place from December 13 – 15, 2018 in Accra, Ghana. The event is designed to familiarize buyers with the Ghanaian and West African suppliers to the MICE industry and assist buyers in selecting the most suitable partners for their events.

The hosted buyer applications will open within the next couple of days – please mark your calendar and save the dates for MICE West Africa Forum & Expo and its Pre-show site inspection days:

On December 11 you will enjoy the Accra City tour and on December 12 you will experience the first Ghanaian capital city - Cape Coast! Stay tuned for further Details of the pre-show site inspection programme are to be revealed soon!

To be accepted as a hosted buyer, you need to oversee organizing MICE events in Ghana and/or West Africa and be the final decision maker or part of the decision-making committee. You will need to proof your responsibility with past event references which will be verified by the MICE West Africa Hosted Buyer Team.

Accepted hosted buyers will receive:

International roundtrip flights, airfare will be reimbursed up to a pre-determined maximum amount
Accommodation at Accra for 1 to 4 nights.
Local airport and ground transfers according to the event schedule
Access to MICE West Africa Forum & Expo and a minimum of 8 pre-determined priority appointments per day with the suppliers of your choice
Access to the Hosted Buyer Lounge with complimentary refreshments and meals
At MICE West Africa Forum & Expo, a dedicated badge facility and the onsite support team and other staff to assist you daily and free Wi-Fi at the forum and in the expo.

The event website is currently being updated and will be available shortly with the latest information. Please visit or check for information. We will publish the application link along the latest information about the hosted buyer programme as soon as it is available.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in Accra!

Cuba: U.S. State Department reduces warnings to travel advisory level 2

Following the explicit travel warning issued by the Department of State not to travel to Cuba in 2017, - this corresponds to Travel Advisory Level 4 (of 4) – or at least level 3 – reconsider travel; the newly issued travel advisory for Cuba corresponds to level 2 – exercise increased caution.

Last year’s travel warnings related to unclear illness of U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba. The reasons of these illnesses were not clear but have been referred to attacks of unclear methods and sources in Cuba. Affected individuals suffered a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, and difficulty sleeping.

The reduced travel advisory level – in place since August 24 – comes timely ahead of IMEX America, and less than a month after United Airlines switched to daily service between Houston, TX and Havana.

Planners may now re-consider Cuba in their list of potential destinations for events. For further details, please refer to the US Department of State website listing Cuba travel advisory.

World MICE Day 2018
25 - 27 October 2018
Qingdao, China
©BIT Congress Inc,

World MICE Day 2018, hosted by the CCPIT-Qingdao Sub Council and organized by BIT Congress Inc, is going to take place on 25-27 October 2018 in Qingdao, China.

Participate in the second World MICE Day, establish new business contacts, gain knowledge, and experience the fast-developing Qingdao and admire its fantastic views.

As a Hosted Buyer, you will meet face-to-face with global leading suppliers including CVBs, Destinations, Venues, and entertainment etc. under one roof for three amazing days. It is estimated that there will be over 150 exhibitors, 400 overseas and domestic hosted buyers with 2,000 participants attending the show.

Dominican Republic: Punta Cana International Airport Debuts New VIP Lounge with Infinity Pool

Cana International Airport recently unveiled its new VIP lounge designed with a modern and avant-garde design, unique in its style, positioning itself as the first to have an infinity pool overlooking the airstrip.

Punta Cana International Airport continues to expand to provide domestic and international travellers innovative and excellent service facilities. The sustained growth of Punta Cana International Airport over the past five years has gone from the construction of a second airstrip, to the latest construction of a new terminal building. The airport will be adding U.S. Pre-Clearance this year in addition to becoming the first airport in the Caribbean to have a pool at an airport terminal overlooking the airstrip.

In addition to the infinity pool and terrace overlooking the airport’s runway, the new lounge will have dedicated hospitality rooms with showers and changing areas for guest convenience. In addition, We will offer all the amenities necessary to enjoy the pool and facilities, such as toiletries, towels and more.

The VIP lounge will be available to owners at Puntacana Resort & Club, guests of Tortuga Bay Hotel, passengers that purchase the VIP service, Priority Pass, Dragon Pass, Lounge Pass and lounge key card holders as well as First and Business class passengers. For airlines with which we have established alliances or with walk-in access to our lounges the cost is US$50 per person.

The indicated price of the VIP service + access to the lounge for 1 person is US$ 125, for 3+ people: US$ 100 each.

The Netherlands, Amsterdam: QO Amsterdam - Now open

Luxury and Sustainability Combine at QO Amsterdam

Featuring pioneering building techniques, the new hotel paves the way for sustainability in the hospitality industry.

QO Amsterdam has opened its doors in the dynamic Amstelkwartier, the ‘new city district’ in the Dutch capital. QO, an IHG® hotel, seamlessly weaves luxury with holistic wellness and sustainability.

Every aspect of the hotel is designed to reduce environmental impact and to create the best possible guest experience, for international and local guests alike, from the rooftop greenhouse to the intelligent façade and energy-saving features in its construction.

‘We want the QO to stand out from other lifestyle destinations. Guests should not have to opt for either luxury or sustainability; we want to show that the two can be perfectly combined. We hope to be a breath of fresh air in the hospitality industry, paving the way for how hotels of the future are built and run,’ says Inge van Weert, General Manager, Hotel at the QO.

Sustainability at Its Core

The 21-floor hotel is a unique ‘living building’. Its innovative façade consists of individual moving aluminium panels installed on the outside of the building which respond according to the exterior climate and whether or not guests are in their room. The panels

provide additional insulation on cooler days or allow sunlight in for heating purposes, ensuring a consistent room temperature. Buried 70m below the ground is the hotel’s energy storage system which holds heated water from the summer months ready to be pumped back in to
warm the hotel when the temperature drops. Meanwhile floor-to-ceiling windows and an atrium mean that 80% of the building’s lighting is provided by natural daylight, minimising the need for artificial light during the day. Together all these measures will significantly reduce the hotel’s power consumption.

The hotel’s 20th floor features Embody, a holistic wellbeing studio that offers the latest in fitness and wellness trends with a wide range of group classes, personal training, small group training, nutritional food options and mindfulness. With its fabulous view of the city, embody will be accessible to locals as well as hotel guests.

The 1st floor features 482 square metres worth of creative and multifunctional areas, perfect for meetings and events. Each of the eight separate areas bear the name of extraordinary pioneers in sustainability. In addition to traditional meeting rooms, the QO also offers a number of living room-style brainstorm areas. Meetings can be combined with a greenhouse visit, for instance, or a mindfulness workshop at the wellbeing studio Embody.

The restaurant and bar are operated independently from the hotel, and each have a distinctive identity.

QO is an IHG® hotel.

South Africa - Township® Fair Trade bags to expand in Europe, North America and the UAE

In MICE:destination, edition May 2016 we introduced the NFP organization Township Patterns. It’s a pleasure to see the organization growing and generating income for the women in the South African townships through their work! See the introduction of Township Patterns here:

Township® announced its plan to accelerate its growth in Europe, North America and the UAE. After several years of success in engaging with the European medical congress industry, Township® focuses its future expansion in the Education and Sports sectors as well as extending its offering to more customers in North America and the UAE.

Christophe Labesse, CEO added “The necessity for more sustainable meetings and events are driving all industry players to source more Eco-friendly, Fair Trade products. Township® is playing a leading role in the industry transformation creating durable, social impact in South African communities and promoting a unique business model. We are very pleased to partner with so many associations around the World”.

Township® will be/was present at the following congresses / trade shows:

EAIE - European Association of International Education congress in Geneva, Sep 11-14
IMEX America in Las Vegas (Oct 16-18) 
Sportel Monaco (Oct 22-24) 

All Township® congress bags are handcrafted by women in autonomous sewing co-operatives in South Africa. Township® is committed to environmental protection. As such, we produce eco-friendly, re-usable, durable and trendy alternatives to plastic bags using natural or recycled fabrics (100% Africa cotton, jute / cotton, recycled PET).

Township Patterns is a member of ICCA since 2011 and all bags are Fair Trade Guaranteed by the World Fair Trade Organisation (

UK: ICC Wales offers site tours ahead of 2019 opening

With less than a year to go until ICC Wales opens its doors in May 2019, the £84 million conference centre is offering the opportunity for potential clients, stakeholders and media to experience the site whilst under construction with exclusive hard hat tours.

With all the steel now in place for the 26,000sqm venue, and building and second fix plumbing and electrics now complete in some areas, guests can visit the site as part of ICC Wales’ “Wonder What It’s Like” tours and start to envisage what their meetings and events will look like at ICC Wales in 2019.

The tours also include the chance to visit the ICC Wales sensory experience suite and see a virtual ‘fly through’ of the building as well as review sample materials, 3D models and floor plans. Guests will also receive sample tasters of the venue’s ‘Mind, Body & Soul’ food and beverage concepts after the tour.

Ian Edwards, CEO of ICC Wales said “With confirmed contracts on our books now worth over £2million, many of our clients are keen to see where their events will be taking place. We are delighted to be able to give visitors a preview of our fantastic state-of-the-art building, and we very much look forward to welcoming many more guests over the coming months before our official opening in spring next year.”

Nancy Mollett, Convention Centre Director said “Our hard hat tours have proven extremely popular with new and potential clients and are a great way to understand the size and potential of ICC Wales. Clients truly appreciate that there are no dead ends, and that every route leads to a view of the woodland or outdoor spaces; we get many comments about the floor to ceiling glass windows in the meeting rooms which really bring the outside in.”

Nancy continued: “The tours are also a great way for event planners to get a real feel for the accessibility of the venue, as we are situated just off the M4 and just a two-hour train journey from London Paddington.”

A joint venture between Celtic Manor and Welsh Government, when it opens next year, ICC Wales will accommodate 5,000 delegates and includes a 4,000sqm pillar-free main hall, a 1,500-seated auditorium, 12 flexible meeting rooms, a double-height glass atrium and a 2,500sqm outdoor plaza.

Five experiences coming to life at IMEX America

Here are five experiences to keep an eye out for at the Sands Expo once the 2018 edition of IMEX America opens, starting with Smart Monday, on October 15. The full business bonanza of the trade show runs October 16 -18.

Recent research carried out by MPI Outlook for the IMEX Group showed that more than two thirds (69 per cent) of event planners expect to include experiential elements in their meetings and conventions from now on, while a further 16 per cent plan to add them in a year or two. For the 5 per cent expecting to introduce them in three years or more, IMEX America is likely to prove that’s just too late; attendee expectations are higher than ever and growing every day, fuelled by exceptional live experiences now available at home and at play.

1. The MPI Carnival: New this year as part of Smart Monday powered by Meeting Professionals International (MPI), October 15 is an American style carnival. Experience magicians, jugglers and artists, LEGO furniture, balloon columns and carnival games. This magical Monday sets the tone for an energetic week.

2. C2 Learning Labs: IMEX Group’s newest partner, C2 International, the ground-breaking leader in business conferences, is tearing down creativity barriers with its Learning Labs. C2 is set to stir the imagination and disrupt conventional thinking. The C2 team will also be presenting a Masterclass – ‘Emotions and Technology: An Exploration of Audience Connection’ – as part of the MPI Keynote series at 08:30 a.m. on Thursday.

3. IMEX Live Zone: Sample a smile-inducing selection of interactive live event experiences. The Live Zone will be home to giant, mobile puppets, a VR zipline, digital caricatures, artists, jugglers, a Kinetic Magic Wall and a living wall. These concepts, some small and some mighty, can easily be planned into traditional event formats.

4. IMEX Tech Zone: This is a brand new testing ground for new event technology, where buyers can try out innovative products and ideas brought to the show by new or up and coming tech companies.

5. The Legacy Wall: For heart-warming and inspiring stories and case studies from exhibitors, attendees, partners and IMEX staff. This simple, walk-up wall puts this year’s IMEX Talking Point – Legacy – at the heart of the show. A good, old-fashioned analogue experience.

See here for a full list of the creative and experiential opportunities available at IMEX America 2018.

IMEX America takes place October 16 – 18 at the Sands® Expo and Convention Center at The Venetian® | The Palazzo® in Las Vegas, preceded by Smart Monday, powered by MPI, on October 15. Register on:

UK, London: Venue Expansion - etc. Venues

One of the UK’s leading providers of event space announces expansion of City of London venue.

etc.venues are delighted to announce that their venue near Monument is expanding across another two floors. etc.venues Monument opened in 2014 originally over two floors and has proved immensly popular with clients in the EC3 area.

Situated on the 5th floor “The Brain Box” urban space will offer views across The City of London with a twist on the usual event venue. In addition to the cool and contemporary Brain Box, the venue will also offer a new exclusive use conference suite on the 4th floor for up to 150 delegates plus exhibition space

The venue in detail:

Contemporary self-contained collaborative space with eclectic décor inspired by nature
Decorative lighting and glass walls to take advantage of the 5th floor views
Six experience rooms offering a spacious creative learning environment
Central communal hub & kitchen designed to inspire, offering pantry tables, relaxed seating and device charging facilities
Relax with a range of board games, complimentary soft drinks and “help yourself” pick & mix sweets

The additional floors will open in Autumn 2018.

USA, Arizona: Verde Canyon Railroad

A Human Experience Aboard a Historic Railroad

In the 21st Century it is commonplace for modern humans to spend a good portion of their days interacting with computers. From the self-check-out at the grocery store to the ATM teller at the bank folks are navigating their days via keyboards and touch-screens rather than interacting with other humans. Verde Canyon Railroad, a historic train adventure based in Clarkdale, Arizona, still believes in people passionately serving people.

From the first phone call answered by a cheerful and helpful reservation agent right here at the railroad depot, to the final moments of the journey, arriving back from a people-based adventure all the while being catered to by courteous car attendants, passengers take away with them the memory that this heritage railroad was truly a human experience.

Dating back to 1912, Verde Canyon Railroad whisks visitors back to a different time, unencumbered by the internet or cell phone signal, into a wild and flourishing riparian canyon full of amazing scenery, wildlife, and ancient ruins. The lack of smart-phone service just means the train dominates in customer service.

Passengers in first class have access to premium beverages and comfortable living-room style seating arrangements, all while enthusiastic attendants share a wealth of fascinating canyon lore.

Real rails, real people, and a real adventure make the Verde Canyon Railroad a feast for each of the senses. The historic rail line was once a treasured connection between the booming copper mines of Jerome and distant civilization. Today, deemed an Arizona Treasure by the state of Arizona, passengers relax in plush comfort as the train rumbles into this same, untouched terrain where eagles soar from the edges of deep red cliffs, and the perennially flowing Verde River weaves a sinuous path through the high desert.

A stone’s throw from the hillside mining town of Jerome, Verde Canyon Railroad’s Clarkdale depot is in the heart of the Verde Valley, a diverse crossroads featuring amazing adventures in every direction.

Only two hours from Phoenix and 25 minutes from Sedona, Verde Canyon Railroad is the perfect Arizona day trip.

USA, Lexington, KY: Breaking Ground on New Convention Center

The Lexington Center broke ground today on the long awaited, highly anticipated US$241 million replacement and expansion of the Lexington Convention Center. While the need to expand and update the convention center had been in discussion for many years, the project fulfills one of Mayor Jim Gray’s original initiatives to reinvigorate the city’s core, reinvent Rupp Arena, incorporate Town Branch Commons into the plan and upgrade the convention facility and the arena to “world class” standards.

The convention center is the largest economic development project in the state. Combined with construction of Town Branch Commons beginning next month on Midland, the work that is currently going on at the new multi-use City Centre project, the continuing reinvention of the Distillery District, and work underway on a downtown movie complex, hundreds of millions of investment in downtown Lexington will be completed over the next 3 years.

The new facility is projected to increase the annual economic impact of the center by US-$58 million and will help Lexington remain competitive and attract more convention business that represents a significant portion of the state’s tourism business.

With its dramatic, light-filled, architectural statement, the new expanded Lexington Convention Center will offer 100,841 sq ft of exhibition space, 25,080 sq ft of ballroom space, 26,756 sq ft of meeting spaces, 57,615 sq. ft of hospitality space and will comprise more than 200,000 square feet when completed.

The project is designed to better connect Rupp Arena and the Convention Center to downtown. The parks and plazas that weave through it will provide new public gathering spots. They include the “Cat Walk,” an exterior stair and gathering spot outside of Rupp Arena; a new outdoor space at the Convention Center called the “Gorge” that also provides outdoor exhibit space; interactive water features; an extension of the Town Branch Trail; and, in the future, the planned Town Branch Park.

The convention center and Rupp Arena will remain open throughout the 42-month construction period while the project is carried out in phases. The projected is scheduled for completion in November of 2021.

USA, Knab, Utah: Kanab’s First Convention Center, The Kanab Center, to Open November 2018

Kanab is home to a new 15,780 square foot convention center, called The Kanab Center, located on the same sight as the original Kanab Middle School. The Kanab Center is set to open this November and can accommodate corporate events, business meetings, receptions and other events. Those hosting their event at The Kanab Center will enjoy the close proximity to national parks, state parks and many year-round outdoor activities. Reservations for all events can be made now by phone.

“The Kanab Center will be like no other facility in southern Utah,” Danielle Ramsay, assistant director, Kane County Office of Tourism “The event possibilities are endless with the convention center operating all year long. Not to mention, guests will have easy access to Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, Lake Powell, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Grand Staircase National Monument. We invite anyone looking for a unique place to host their event to come to Kanab and see all the hidden gems of our area.”

The Kanab Center will feature a 6,000 square foot ballroom that can accommodate more than 400 round table seats or 750 theater-style seats, seven breakout rooms and an on-site kitchen with catering available. The building also includes an expo space for conventions and seminars. Those hosting outdoor events will have access to two plazas that can be used for outdoor cooking, live performances or a dance floor with capacity for more than 200 guests.

Built in 1917, the Kanab School is one of the most recognized buildings in the city. The school served the community for nearly a century where it was not only the center of Kanab student’s lives but was the primary gathering location for community events. The new convention center will use the building’s infrastructure and pay homage to the school through the new façade and plaque. The Kanab Center also will continue to host community sporting events while expanding its use to welcome visitors from around the world.

The new convention center is funded by Kane County Office of Tourism and the city of Kanab. The land was donated by Kane County School District.