FIFTY countries were represented at the second Gulf Incentives Business Travel and Meetings exhibition (GIBTM) held at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi last month.
His excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), said that the exhibition generated considerable interest among the Gulf and international tourism sectors, indicated by the growth in numbers of exhibitors, hosted buyers and overall visitors compared to the inaugural edition last year.
He believed GIBTM to have a major catalytic impact on the development of the emirate and the region’s MICE tourism sector in 2008, and stressed that business and MICE tourism was one of the most lucrative and high growth segments in the global tourism industry.
An important outcome of GIBTM will be the eventual attraction of major MICE events to be staged in both Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region in the future. HE Sheikh Sultan added that the interest in the exhibition demonstrated a positive milestone in the government of Abu Dhabi’s development strategies, in particular its focus on the developing tourism infrastructure.
He said GIBTM acts as an important showcase for Abu Dhabi’s MICE infrastructure and services for meeting planners from all over the world. This in turn serves to strengthen international recognition for, and confidence in, Abu Dhabi’s MICE capabilities, thereby enhancing the Emirate’s credibility to attract more international exhibitions.
The pre-audited figures showed an attendance of 1,588 which included 229 hosted buyers and an increase of 34 per cent on 2007. Exhibitors increased to 688 attending personnel. Before the show opened almost 5,000 pre-scheduled business appoint-ments had been confirmed. Officially audited numbers by ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) will be available later.
The feedback from both exhibitors and attendees to GIBTM has been very positive; both in terms of increased international interest in Abu Dhabi and the Gulf region as a MICE destination, as well as towards the positioning of GIBTM as a major event on the global MICE industry calendar.
Paul Kennedy MBE, group exhibition director commented, “We have been delighted at the way the second GIBTM has been received by the industry and the region. The feedback from the show floor has been very positive with everyone noticing the increase in size, and the number of pre-scheduled appoint-ments taking place. Our aim at GIBTM, and for the rest of the RTE portfolio of meeting events, is to bring buyers and sellers together in a professional way; they want to see an ROI from the event for their financial and time investment. From what we have heard over the last three days, we have achieved these objectives.”
Cecelia Amory, managing member Egypt & Beyond, South Africa and one of this year’s hosted buyers said, “I have found GIBTM very informative. I had not been to Abu Dhabi before, but can see the destination has a lot to offer. I can see GIBTM growing and feel very positive about it”.
Shakti Ghosal, general manager business development, National Travel and Tourism Oman said, “It is an extremely well organised show, considering the event is only in its second year. I have met with a diverse set of people who are serious about business. GIBTM addresses a niche market and I wish the show the very best, and would like to visit again”.
For exhibitors, Karen Whittle, senior manager groups, Gulf region Jumeirah, Dubai, “The show has been really good for us. It’s been busy and the seminars have been really informative. We have met lots of people who have not been very aware of Jumeirah so it has been a great educational process too”.
Adrian Rudin, general manager, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, Abu Dhabi said, “Despite being only in its second year, I think the show has grown quite nicely. We have had a very busy agenda for each day and the quality of people coming through is very high. We are very happy with the outcome”.
The results of the second GIBTM annual research survey launched on the first day of the event showed that both buyers and suppliers continue to see further growth in the Middle East meetings market and attracted a record attendance.
The education programme for 2008 beat expectations, with a 150 per cent increase recorded in delegates over the three days. “We have been overwhelmed by the response this year to the whole professional education programme. This is a key strategic brand value of all the RTE meetings events and hosted buyers, exhibiting personnel and visitors have been using the sessions as intensive industry training,” says Graeme Barnett, GIBTM event director.