BITE sweeps in deals worth $3m


MORE than $3 million worth of business was transacted during May’s Bahrain International Travel Expo, BITE 2006, according to organisers.

The second BITE, held on May 9, 10 and 11 under the patronage of Crown Prince and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, has registered impressive results, doing the travel industry proud, says Jamil Wafa, chairman of Magnum Holdings, the parent company of Magnum Exhibitions and Events Management (MEEM). “Besides $3 million worth of businesses transacted by the various participants, more businesses are in the pipeline from the various exhibitors,” he says.
BITE 2006 recorded approximately 16,800 visitors, who were serious, educated holiday seekers with a cosmopolitan background, says Wafa. Seventy-nine exhibitors participated from 27 countries from all over the world and the majority believed that event offered an interactive forum with visitors who were focused holiday seekers, according to Wafa. “For many people this was a first opportunity to upgrade their knowledge on the various travel options available - especially for markets such as Australia, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and India.”
The main highlight of this year’s BITE was the presence of 60 key Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) buyers from Germany, France, UK, Ireland, Greece, South Africa and India.
They represented organisations, which collectively have an annual spend of $ 3.2 billion.
The exhibition was held at a 4,900sqm area at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) this year, against 2,000sqm last year at the Gulf Hotel's Gulf International Convention Centre.
“Many of the exhibitors have pledged to come back for next year's event, for which we shall book at least 6,000sqm of exhibition space at BIEC,” he says. “BITE has become an important event on the international tourism calendar and coincides with a time when our government is promoting investments in tourism. Exhibitors felt this year’s exhibition has been better organised and in line with the international exhibitions held in any modern country. In the future, we expect to host training programmes, motivated conferences, incentive travel and product launches.”
A survey conducted by organisers revealed that 83pc of exhibitors found the exhibition very successful and were very satisfied, says Wafa. Twenty-three per cent of the exhibitors attended BITE 2006 to establish new business contacts, whereas 16 per cent participated to meet existing customers and 15 per cent to make a presence in the travel market. Exhibitors’ satisfaction was high with 60 proclaiming that BITE was successful and 32 per cent claiming to have found the event adequate in meeting their objectives.
Sixty per cent of the exhibitors generated adequate to very good sales. Sixty-two per cent felt that BITE 2006 was successful from the point of view of quality and interaction by the visitors and 31 per cent felt that the quality of interaction was adequate. Sixty-eight per cent believe that return on investment for exhibiting at BITE was good and 32 per cent believed that it was adequate.
Only 11 per cent of the visitors were from other GCC countries, according to Wafa. “Every effort will be made to attract more visitors from GCC countries as well as countries like Iraq and Iran next year,” he says.