by Esther Faith Lew | October 12, 2015
More than 40 world records and 130 Olympic records were broken during 2008 Olympics. It was a mega-event that saw Beijing rise to the challenge, spurring the births of iconic structures that were global talking points - The Beijing Olympic Stadium and National Aquatics Centre. Today, it provides post-Olympic glamour for incentives tours, a popular option that injects elements of art, architecture and sports into the historical web of intrigue.

The sports theme will gain momentum yet again, with the 2022 Winter Olympics coming up next. No doubt there will be impressive infrastructures and buildings created for this spectacular event, generating new razzmatazz for DMCs to promote. The geographical reach goes beyond the capital, with Zhangjiakou in Hebei province and Yanqing being the other two sites for the Olympics. 

Going suburban seems to be on the agenda too, in the MICE industry. Beijing is already a steady stalwart in the arena, with 104 global conferences last year under its belt, placing it first in China and second in Asia, according to the latest statistics from International Congress and Convention Association. Now the push is to take the MICE business to suburban hotels and science parks, as the natural environments and tourism resources are better suited for MICE events, according to reports by Wang Yue, vice-chairwoman of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.

The city has 65 five-star hotels, 130 four-star hotels and 203 three-star hotels as at end-2014. New ones such as Nuo, Beijing's latest local five-star luxury hotel, hosted international delegates who attended CIBTM 2015 in August this year. Now in its 10th year, this leading MICE exhibition in China welcomed 380 exhibitors from 28 countries. Since its inception, organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions has created a buzz in the industry that continually spurs MICE growth and international arrivals. "More than 80 percent of the show is represented by those who returned following the success of last year's show, which proves the power of face-to-face meetings and networking at our event," says Xi Chen, senior project manger of CIBTM.

Many delegates were hosted at Nuo, located away from the bustle of the CBD in Chaoyang District. The hotel is a venue for art and culture
in itself, showcasing impressive artworks specially created by famed artist Zeng Fanzhi, who also curates the collections in the hotel gallery. Its locale too is a convenient springboard for exploring the mainstream Beijing 798 Art Zone and its bohemian counterpart, Caochangdi Art District, made popular by influential artist Ai Weiwei.

SCINTILLATING SIGHTS
The Great Wall of China, The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace are the top sightseeing spots for inbound delegates, according to Julie Yang, senior account manager, China, Pacific World. But post-Olympics and art venues have spurred interest from an international gathering delegates who desire diversity. 

Located in Olympic Green Village, Chaoyang District, the Olympic Stadium will come alive once again for the 2022 Winter Olympics. It is presently popular tourist attraction that also gained fame for its striking design. Created by Swiss and Chinese architects, the stadium's exposed steel frames gave it its unique bird's nest look and eventual moniker. It covers 258,000 sqm and accommodates 80,000 fixed seats and 11,000 temporary seats.

Nearby is the National Aquatics Centre aka Water Cube, which was the venue for the Olympics swimming and diving competitions. Twenty-one world records were broken in the Water Cube. Its design garnered an award for the façade's ingenuous iridescent bubble-wrap effect, created by morphing molecular science with architectural engineering and phenomenology. Presently used as a water theme park, the Water Cube is also a stunning venue for corporate and meetings events. It accommodates 1,000 pax. 

Housed within decommissioned military buildings are galleries and studios nurturing a thriving arts scene, now collectively known as the Beijing 798 Art Zone. Local and overseas art aficionadoes make it their stomping ground, as do tourists keen to discover the city's expressive side. This creative space is trendy and avant-garde, giving events an edge for high-level activities. It accommodates 250 pax.