Gearing up for successful business events
The Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority (BECA) is the country’s flagship organisation devoted to bringing about successful business-to-business events aimed at promoting Bahrain as a preferred business tourism destination. It also operates the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre (BIEC), the largest pillar-free interconnected exhibition centre in the country.
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, BECA’s acting CEO, talks to CHERYL MANDY.
What are the biggest events the travel and tourism sector can look forward to at BIEC?
The Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE). [This will be held for the fifth successful year, from 14 to 16 May 2009 in the BIEC. It is an annual event organised and managed by Magnum Events and Exhibitions Management, which aims to showcase current travel trends, projects and new emerging destinations around the world. BITE offers a platform for the display of novel products, promotions and launches of new products and services.]
What does the BIEC’s tie in with Gulf Air offer exhibitors/ visitors?
There are discounted rates offered to BIEC’s event organisers and their delegates. Any out-of-towners wishing to visit exhibitions at BIEC can always go to http://www.gulfair.com/offers/online-promotion.asp to avail of the lowest guaranteed airfares to Bahrain.
What would you say were the exhibition centre’s USP’s?
Proximity to the Eastern province of Saudi Arabia which is 30 minutes away via King Fahd Causeway; versatility and flexibility of BIEC management and staff; a dedicated meetings environment 15 minutes away from Bahrain International Airport; BIEC is the largest trade show and meeting facility in Bahrain with nearly 16,250 sq m of pre-function, exhibition, convention and concert space; and good value for money packages.
What does the agreement recently signed between BECA and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) mean to you?
It demonstrates BCCI’s commitment to support the growth, competitiveness and well-being of Bahrain’s business tourism industry. Partnerships are vital to the success of the MICE industry. We strongly believe that the drive for business tourism projects must come from stakeholders such as private sector companies. They know first hand what the local needs and priorities are.
How does BECA go about attracting global events and encouraging more business tourism projects?
By successfully making the case for a bigger and improved exhibition and convention centre for Bahrain. Construction of the new Bahrain Expo City in Sakhir has won the support of the Bahrain government. Groundbreaking is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2009 with a target completion date of 2011. Bahrain Expo City will increase the existing exhibit and meeting area by more than six fold.
By working with BECA’s strategic partners - Gulf Air, Bahrain Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Tourism Marketing & Promotions (Ministry of Information), Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) - as well as our hospitality industry to improve Bahrain’s competitiveness, enhance tourism infrastructure and expand marketing.
By establishing Bahrain’s reputation as a destination offering one of a kind experiences that most attendees will not be able to experience on their own, for example, partnering with BIC and hotels in creating well executed, memorable events. It also participates in key international business tourism exhibitions and congresses such as IMEX (Frankfurt), ICCA, UFI, EIBTM (Barcelona), and establishes ties with our key contacts from Bahrain’s priority sectors.
By bidding for the hosting of international congresses and sporting events.
By improving the skills of BECA’s employees and retaining the best and the brightest through better career development.
Has BECA’s affiliation with other international exhibition organisers around the world been beneficial and if so in what way?
Yes. The calibre and purchasing power of trade show delegates visiting our joint venture exhibitions at BIEC have been higher, plus attendance numbers at panel discussions have risen. BECA has also benefited from the exchange of know-how from its J/V partners all of whom are seasoned players in the exhibition industry.
Such affiliations provide Bahrain with opportunities to gain prominence on the exhibition map in addition to creating important economic spinoffs, e.g., revenues from hotel room nights, airfare, etc.
What does the MICE meeting industry mean to Bahrain?
Bahrain recognises the economic contribution of the MICE industry as demonstrated by the willingness of the Bahrain government and the private sector (leisure and tourism industry) to support the new 100,000 sq m Bahrain Expo City.