Mice sector generates $650bn in added value


THE world tourism industry has proven its resilience with an unexpectedly strong comeback in 2010. The global tourism sector grew five per cent last year, according to IPK’s World Travel Monitor. And the recovery is being powered by emerging markets such as Asia, South America and the Middle East which all have double-digit growth rates.

It is when one looks at the figures worldwide for the Mice sector that one begins to realise how important it is to the global tourism and travel industry overall. The global tourism industry generated about $5.7 trillion of value added in 2010 (more than nine per cent of global GDP) and employs around 235 million people directly or indirectly, according to The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The Mice sector accounted for more than $650 billion of this value.

In the US the Mice sector directly supports more than 1.7 million jobs and it is no surprise that the US remains the world’s top Mice destination, followed by Europe and the Far East. But the Middle East is an emerging destination for this lucrative sector in which it is showing continuous growth.

That growth is centred around the UAE and Qatar, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi taking the lead positions. Abu Dhabi’s business tourism, meetings and incentive infrastructure has expanded significantly over the past year. Business tourism currently accounts for around 70 per cent of Abu Dhabi’s hotel guest profile with 10 per cent of this emanating from the Mice segment.

Confidence in the growth potential of the Middle East’s meetings and events sector has remained strong due to the increasingly significant role the region plays in a highly globalised economic setup. And so, for the fifth year running, Abu Dhabi is hosting the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) which takes place from March 28 to 30 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The event in March 2011 aims to attract more than 2,000 industry professionals, 300 hosted buyers and 250-plus exhibiting companies, with around 40 per cent of visitors coming from across the Middle East and three in every five reflecting an international mix.

Following on from the success of EIBTM in Barcelona, and specifically its ‘gold class standard’ education programme, the focus now turns to providing a similar thought-provoking schedule of seminars, workshops and debates for GIBTM 2011.

The exhibition is unique in being the only platform for professional development for the meetings industry in the Middle East region and the education programme will present a diverse range of subjects that underline GIBTM’s commitment to raising industry standards and encouraging learning and development. Leading international and regional experts as well as industry associations will make presentations on subjects within the themes of trends, incentive travel, event management, technology and finance, marketing and sales and social media.

Lloyd Kenyon is exhibition manager of GIBTM 2011.

Mice diaries by Lloyd Kenyon