More than just a meeting point or a backdrop, the best MICE destinations provide a perfect setting to become connected to our world in a unique way. Meetings and business events allow visitors to experience and embrace both the environment and culture of a specific locale while achieving important goals.
As the MICE industry readies to return, companies are excited to explore new and meaningful ways to network, collaborate, inspire and learn. Our Group Charter team is supporting the MICE industry, providing custom flight solutions that certainly help to meet today’s current travel needs.
In this blog, we explore some of the top MICE destinations in Latin America that might inspire you for planning your meetings, events and flights.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Costa Rica seeks to win over tourism from international travelers, particularly with their recent Sanctuary campaign. With rainforests and wildlife, beaches and volcanoes, the exotic landscape for Costa Rica naturally lends itself to exploration, spontaneity and discovery – and the remote feeling has a bold appeal to meetings and event planners especially during the pandemic. Costa Rica reinforces preservation, sustainability and openness. With Costa Rica being very much environmentally-conscious and at the forefront of becoming a carbon-neutral nation, it is gaining a lot of attention recently.
Cultural San Jose’s metropolitan area is easily accessible by air, and offers restaurants with plenty of food and drink options as well as amply hotels with meeting spaces. As well, San Jose offers museums, parks, theaters and nightlife for group activities.
As Costa Rica continues to grow in popularity for the MICE market, meeting properties and spaces are developing even more so. The W Hotel opened with over 10 thousand square feet of meeting space and its own nature preserve. In 2018, in San Jose, the Costa Rica Convention Center opened near the Juan Santamaria International Airport.
Venues: The Costa Rica Convention Center covers 168,000 square feet with a capacity of 4,600. The Wyndham San Jose Herradura Hotel & Convention Center hosts 18 meeting rooms totaling 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Nearest Airport:Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO)
Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico historically has made up a significant percentage of all Latin American MICE tourism, offering diverse options to host meetings and events, from Guadelajara to Nuevo Vallarta. Mexico City is a colorful and complex metropolis, weaving together a rich history with innovative thinking. This balance makes Mexico City a perfect place for meaningful meetings and memorable moments. Setting itself apart, Mexico City symbolizes change for Latin America, and for meeting planners, a persuasive backdrop for important discussion and negotiation.
For a localized experience, Polanco and Reforma-Centro have offers an upscale environment while maintaining the integrity of its deeply rooted culture – and MICE travelers can enjoy nearby five-star hotels, fine dining restaurant, luxury shoppes, and museums.
Mexico City is an event destination that continues to make itself known. In November 2022, the National League of Football (NFL) is scheduled to host a regular-season international game in Mexico City.
Venues: With options to host gatherings of any size, whether for smaller group meetings or major events, venues in Mexico City tend to be centrally located. For large-scale meetings and events, planners can choose between Mexico City’s World Trade Center, Expo Reforma, Centro Citabanamex, Expo Santa Fe and Blackberry Auditorium.
Nearest Airport: Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez (MEX)
Panama City, Panama
Located in Central America, Panama is perfectly-located meeting point, accessible for international travelers flying from U.S. and South American and Caribbean countries. Panama was one of the first countries to reopen its borders for international travelers, as of October 2020. In June 2022, Panama announced that business-related events reopening at 25% capacity, with health and safety regulations set. Having its eye set on hosting large in-person events and accommodating international business trips, The cosmopolitan Panama City offers an ideal climate for planning meetings and events. Visitors can find themselves exploring restaurant menu options or the rainforest wildlife of Parque Metropolitano, where parrots and toucans dwell.
Venues: The Panama Convention Center is set to open this August 2021, featuring a 15,400 square foot exhibition hall and the largest ballroom in Panama with enough space for 2,000 guests. The center will accommodate meetings rooms or event banquet halls.
Nearest airports: Tocumen International Airport (PTY) or Albrook Gelabert Airport (PAC)
Lima’s forward-thinking approach to integrate visitors with the historical landscape and embrace their rich local culture pushes Lima to the forefront of popular MICE destinations. Peru became a favored choice for high-profile events due to its favorable political climate and increasing business interests.
Recognized globally for historical sites, Lima adds a layer of authenticity and discovery for meetings and event planning professionals gravitate toward. For groups who travel, Lima offers unique experiences like a train ride on the Belmond Andean Explorer, which goes across the Peruvian Andes mountains to get closer to Lake Titicaca and Cusco. Peru’s luxury hotel options include Palacio del Inka and the Sumaq Machu Picchu, properties that either can supply multiple conference rooms or surrounded by outdoor activities suitable for team building exercises or incentive travel.
As a popular tourist destination, with an infrastructure that is challenged by growing travel demands, it is important that meeting and event planners consider their arrangements early on, and consider timings for scheduling their events.
Venue: The Lima Convention Centre (LCC) accommodates up to 10.5 thousand people, and is one of the largest in South America. The LLC continues to host major events.
Nearest Airport: Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is making strides toward re-opening and loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Following announcements earlier this month (July 2021) that hotels and offices could safely reopen at 30%, Buenos Aires will start to permit outdoor cultural events (with a 1,000 person maximum) in August. Perhaps one of the most sophisticated MICE destinations in the world, Buenos Aires is a hybrid of Latin American wealth and excellence, and earned its name as the “Culture Capital of Latin America”. For meeting planners and event professionals, Buenos Aires is a suitable choice for corporate events or incentive trips due to its professional yet relaxed environment which allows for both business and leisure. Being one of the largest Latin American cities, Buenos Aires supports the events industry particularly well with two airports.
Five-star and boutique hotels are abundant in Buenos Aires. All in a day - a whole group can explore fine art exhibits, learn to tango, taste some of the region’s best wines, and show off their culinary skills. For sport, enjoy watching or playing polo or soccer matches. And nothing beats a river tour on the Rio de la Plata to sightsee over a thousand islands.
Buenos Aires is known to host a number of events in the Latin Americas, and offers several venues for congresses, conventions and trade fairs throughout the year. The Centro Costa Salguero is a versatile venue for exhibitions, conventions, shows, sporting events, social events and corporate meetings. Nearby of the Jorge Newberry Airport, the Golden Center is ideal for all types of events including automotive, corporate and more.
Buenos Aires ho has a growing number of sports venues, which accommodated the 2018 Youth Olympics. Originally Argentina was set to co-host the 2020/2021 Copa America, but inevitably hosted in Brazil due to various factors after being postponed by the pandemic. With Argentina recently winning the Copa America championship, it may lead to future opportunities to host future World Cup games.
Venues: La Rural is the largest venue in Buenos Aires for trade fairs, with 860,000 square feet and a capacity up to 8,900 attendees.
Nearest Airports: Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) or Jorge Newberry Airfield (AEP)
While Santiago may be one of the more obscure choices for meetings and events, its unique atmosphere of urban remoteness paired with a strong will make it an attractive destination. The growing culinary arts and cultural scene of Santiago leave something more to the imagination to be discovered, and this makes the capital (and largest city of Chile) an opportune choice to venture to new territory and reach higher ground with business meetings, corporate events, or incentive trips.
While the day and night activities of the city include museums, sports, arts and food, Santiago’s location in the southern hemisphere (much more south than typical MICE destinations) allows the ability to ski the surrounding Andes mountains during the North American summer (July to October). And you can count on the fine Chilean wines for warmth, along with a deeper understanding of famed Santiago poet Pablo Neruda.
Chile has a high level of safety and a well-developed infrastructure that supports MICE tourism. Santiago has first-class convention centers, including Santiago Business and Conference Center and the Marriott Sheraton Santiago. While a few commercial airlines offer flights to and from Chile from North America, hiring a private jet charter can fly your group from Santiago Airport to Easter Island - the only route to get there.
Venues: Espacio Riesco – over 290,000 square feet, with a capacity of up to 8,000 – is suitable for all types of large scale meetings and events.
Nearest Airports: Santiago Airport (ACL)
Cartagena de Indias, also known as “The Walled City”, appears amongst the top meetings and incentive destination lists for all the right reasons. A picturesque seaside city of modern architecture, characterized by a colonial backdrop of balconies and cobblestone streets, exhibit a rich sense of culture and history that Cartagena perfect for discussions, meetings and more. Congresses, conventions and some of the global events come here each year. A coastal climate makes this Caribbean locale a go-to for incentive groups with tropical beaches, flashy nightlife, and exquisite gastronomy. If you aren’t at a museum event, Cartagena hosts the only Tournament Players Club PGA-operated golf course in South America at the Karibana Beach Golf Condominium, designed by Jack Nicklaus. And, then there’s always watersports and sailing.
Venues: Cartagena boasts “21 strongholds, 7 forts, 5 museums and 8 squares” that are used to host many events of different kinds. Julio César Turbay Ayala Convention Center holds over 6400 people, and also used for the arts. For a more intimate and cultural setting, the San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the Customs House Square or Santo Domingo square are elegant choices.
Nearest airports: Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG)
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