GIBTM‭ ‬2014‭ ‬‬-‭ ‬Q&A with Lois Hall‭ ‬of Reed Travel Exhibitions – ‬GIBTM Exhibition Manager

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GIBTM‭ ‬2014‭ ‬- Lois Hall,‭ ‬Reed Travel Exhibitions,‭ ‬GIBTM Exhibition Manager answers questions key questions on the Gulf MICE industry in relation to the upcoming GIBTM EXPO.

Q.‭ ‬The IBTM Global Events Portfolio and various other‭ ‬MICE Sector professionals have predicted exponential growth in business events‭ ‬across the Middle East for‭ ‬2014‭ ‬– can you give us a little‭ ‬insight into why‭ ‬might this be‭?
A.‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬surely.‭ ‬The Middle East meetings industry is already robust and it comes as no surprise that confidence in future industry growth is also improving,‭ ‬which indicates another successful year ahead for the industry.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬the‭ ‬IBTM Middle East Meetings Industry Report revealed that‭ ‬69%‭ ‬of Middle Eastern‭ ‬buyers‭ ‬plan to increase the number of events they will be organising in the next year.

One of the key factors currently contributing towards the global spotlight on‭ ‬the Middle East MICE‭ ‬industry‭ ‬in‭ ‬2014‭ ‬will be‭ ‬Dubai‭’‬s successful World Expo‭ ‬2020‭ ‬bid.‭ ‬This will undoubtedly‭ ‬accelerate‭ ‬the‭ ‬economic growth throughout the‭ ‬region and‭ ‬will provide‭ ‬a‭ ‬renewed stimulus to the meetings and incentives sector‭ ‬there.

The‭ ‬World Expo is anticipated‭ ‬to bring‭ ‬25‭ ‬million visitors to Dubai,‭ ‬71%‭ ‬of whom will hail from overseas.‭ ‬This will raise the profile of the‭ ‬Middle East even further,‭ ‬highlighting its status as a global meetings hub before,‭ ‬during and after the event and‭ ‬will be‭ ‬supported by an estimated US$7‭ ‬billion worth of transport and tourism-related infrastructure development.

Q.‭ ‬Have you witnessed any other emerging trends in terms of the developing infrastructure in the Middle East‭?
The current Middle East/Africa hotel development pipeline‭ ‬already‭ ‬comprises‭ ‬480‭ ‬hotels‭ ‬totaling‭ ‬118,023‭ ‬rooms‭ (‬STR Global Construction pipeline January‭ ‬2013‭)‬.‭ ‬Oman is set to see the largest expected supply growth of‭ ‬4,613‭ ‬rooms‭ (‬+63.9%‭)‬,‭ ‬that will be welcomed to support the new exhibition and convention centre in Muscat.‭

In addition‭ ‬to this,‭ ‬the UAE,‭ ‬Saudi Arabia,‭ ‬Algeria,‭ ‬Qatar and Kuwait are also predicted to see large growth.‭ ‬44,438‭ ‬rooms were predicted to open during‭ ‬2013‭ ‬including‭ ‬7,868‭ ‬in Dubai,‭ ‬on top of the‭ ‬4,024‭ ‬additional hotel rooms that opened in Dubai in‭ ‬2012‭ ‬and‭ ‬1,522‭ ‬rooms in Abu Dhabi‭ ‬– so there is no doubt that the meetings infrastructure is developing at an exponential rate in the region.‭

Quality is also a key trend we have witnessed in terms of developing infrastructure in the Middle East.‭ ‬A recent WEF report‭ (‬Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report‭) ‬has rated the UAE’s infrastructure as among the best in the world.‭ ‬The‭ ‬facilities are‭ ‬extremely well developed following a period of rapid progress‭ ‬in recent years,‭ ‬which saw the construction of residential,‭ ‬tourism,‭ ‬industrial and commercial‭ ‬infrastructure‭ ‬on a massive scale.‭ ‬In addition to this,‭ ‬infrastructure in tourist facilities,‭ ‬telecommunications,‭ ‬ports and airports continue to receive a major injection of capital.‭

Q.‭ ‬What does the line up look like in terms of regional exhibitors‭ ‬who will be showcasing their products and services at GIBTM‭ ‬2014‭?
We have‭ ‬already confirmed‭ ‬participation from‭ ‬a number of key regional exhibitors including‭ ‬Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority,‭ ‬Egyptian Tourist Authority,‭ ‬Qatar Tourism Authority,‭ ‬The‭ ‬Kingdom of Bahrain Tourism Sector‭ ‬Jordan Tourism Board,‭ ‬Oman Ministry of Tourism and‭ ‬Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.‭ 

There are also a number of‭ ‬key hotel groups,‭ ‬airlines and DMC‭’‬s confirmed to participate as part of the regional‭ ‬exhibitor offering including‭ ‬Rotana Hotels and Resorts,‭ ‬Marriott,‭ ‬Intercontinental Hotels and Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, Etihad Airways,‭ ‬Gulf Circle Tours and Miracle Tourism LLC.

Q.‭ ‬Can you provide us with some information about the international demand you have witnessed from buyers looking to place‭ ‬business into the Middle‭ ‬East‭?
Yes,‭ ‬it is interesting to see that international buyers‭ ‬who visit our portfolio of shows are expressing an interest in placing large amounts of‭ ‬business into the Middle East.‭ ‬Post show research has revealed‭ ‬that nearly a third of all buyers who attended AIBTM expressed a direct interest in holding events in the Middle East and North Africa and‭ ‬32%‭ ‬of European buyers who visited EIBTM‭ ‬2013‭ ‬confirmed that they are already organising events in the MENA region.‭

In addition to this,‭ ‬MICE inbound arrivals accounted for almost half of all business arrivals in the United Arab Emirates in‭ ‬2012.‭ ‬The‭ ‬Middle East is also home to a large number of hotels and other venues offering MICE services,‭ ‬such as Abu Dhabi‭’‬s ADNEC exhibition centre.‭ ‬The government and regional tourist boards are also strongly focused on attracting MICE tourists,‭ ‬with the‭ ‬Abu Dhabi TCA and Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau,‭ ‬Qatar Tourism Authority,‭ ‬Kingdom of Bahrain Tourism Sector,‭ ‬Dubai‭ ‬Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Oman Ministry of Tourism‭ ‬setting ambitious targets in this area.

Q.‭ ‬Can you tell us a little bit more about the Hosted‭ ‬Buyer‭ ‬Programme‭ ‬for this year‭?
As a direct result of the growing demand we are witnessing from international buyers who are looking to harness the potential of the rapidly developing meetings industry in the Middle East,‭ ‬we have extended the Hosted Buyer allocation to over‭ ‬300‭ ‬buyers this year.
We are also anticipating that the show will generate around‭ ‬8,500‭ ‬pre-scheduled business appointments between Hosted Buyers and the growing number of exhibitors who have already signed up to take part.

Hosted Buyers‭ ‬attending‭ ‬will receive a‭ ‬personalised diary of pre-scheduled‭ ‬business‭ ‬appointments‭ ‬selected by them in advance of GIBTM with key regional exhibitors‭ ‬as well as direct access to the newly launched GIBTM Knowledge programme and invitations to a range of exclusive networking events,‭ ‬as well as complimentary return flights,‭ ‬transfers and‭ ‬4/5‭* ‬accommodation.

Event organisers and meetings industry professionals who influence or make budgetary decisions for international business travel,‭ ‬meetings,‭ ‬incentive travel,‭ ‬international conventions,‭ ‬product launches or staff training may be eligible to attend the largest gathering of meeting professionals in the Middle East as a Hosted Buyer and can apply via‭ ‬www.gibtm.com/hbapply‭

Q.‭ ‬And what about regional buyers,‭ ‬looking to place business with international suppliers exhibiting at the show‭?
The IBTM Middle East Meetings Industry Report highlights that unlike other regions of the world where budgets are under extreme pressure even when volume is increasing,‭ ‬59%‭ ‬of Middle East buyers are forecasting increased budgets for the next twelve months and‭ ‬30%‭ ‬say budgets will remain the same as last year.

This year we can confirm that we have three new Group Co-coordinators‭ ‬on board,‭ ‬who will be solely focusing on recruiting‭ ‬70‭ ‬new‭ ‬Middle East Hosted Buyers to the show.‭ ‬In addition to this,‭ ‬we have‭ ‬already confirmed‭ ‬regional buyers attending from destinations including‭ ‬Saudi Arabia,‭ ‬Qatar,‭ ‬UAE,‭ ‬Oman,‭ ‬Jordan,‭ ‬Kuwait,‭ ‬Bahrain including‭ ‬Corporates,‭ ‬Associations,‭ ‬PCO‭’‬s and‭ ‬Incentive and Government planners representing the region‭’‬s major sectors including the lucrative oil‭ & ‬gas,‭ ‬financial,‭ ‬hospitality,‭ ‬pharmaceutical,‭ ‬education,‭ ‬engineering and communication industries.

Q.‭ ‬Can you tell us a little bit about any new initiatives you have arranged for the show this year‭?
There are a number of new initiatives and show features lined up for the show this year.‭ ‬Firstly,‭ ‬the show has‭ ‬recently announced plans to incorporate a number of new regional post event tour options for international Hosted Buyers attending.‭ ‬We can now confirm that Bahrain,‭ ‬Dubai,‭ ‬Jordan and Qatar will be participating in the programme,‭ ‬which will host groups of top international meeting and incentive buyers directly after GIBTM‭ ‬2014.‭ ‬For more information visit‭ ‬www.gibtm.com/hbtours‭

Other new initiatives for GIBTM‭ ‬2014‭ ‬include the Business Travel‭ ‬@ GIBTM,‭ ‬which‭ ‬will offer a full day of networking and educational opportunities for this specific sector‭; ‬the first-ever GIBTM-hosted‭ ‬‘Market Focus on Asia‭’‬ event along with a dedicated Asia Pavilion‭; ‬the Africa Pavilion‭; ‬and‭ ‬the‭ ‬sourceme‭ ‬Pavilion,‭ ‬in partnership with Nicholas Publishing InternationaI‭ (‬NPI‭)‬,‭ ‬which will showcase the region‭’‬s leading event service suppliers.

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