Global experts to discuss MICE industry at ATM seminar


Infrastructure investments in the regional meetings industry are crucial for growth, according to an industry specialist.

Rob Nicholas, director at Dubai-based Nicholas Publishing International (NPI), which produces nine meetings industry publications, says that although the Middle East is hosting an increasing number of meetings and conferences, the region still has a long way to go in terms of attracting major association meetings.
“Major rotational meetings are an entity in themselves, and represent a highly untapped segment for the Middle East. This is primarily due to the absence of dedicated convention bureaus in many regional destinations to spearhead efforts to attract them, as well as the lack of professional congress organisers,” said Nicholas. “The lack of medium-tier accommodation is also detrimental to efforts to attract associations as budgets are often tight and don’t stretch to five-star hotels. If you talk to leading industry figures such as Roger Tondeur, President of MCI, you’ll be told that association meetings account for up 40 per cent of the global meetings industry (often referred to as MICE), yet it is almost non-existent in the region so far.”
At ATM, Nicholas will chair a panel discussion dedicated to understanding the Middle East’s meetings industry and breaking down the acronym ‘MICE’ into its distinct components.
“MICE is a term not commonly used in most parts of the world. In the Middle East, it is often used as a wholesale term to cover everything from a meeting for five people to a concert or wedding. This creates a skewed picture of what destinations are achieving in increasing the contribution of the meetings industry,” added Nicholas, who has been tracking the industry for more than six years.
“The discussion aims to provide a thorough and complete understanding of the MICE acronym – discussing each sector separately – and how it will augment regional tourism development currently estimated to be worth $1 trillion,” he said.
Joining Nicholas in the panel discussion will be Roger Tondeur, president and founder of MCI. As well as developing MCI into the foremost global association, communications and event management group, Tondeur’s achievements also include being past-president of SITE – the Society of Incentive Travel Executives.
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, director of MICE at Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Authority – formerly with IMEX and EIBTM – and Paul Vincent, Sales and Marketing Director of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Company (ADNEC) will also provide the venue perspective bringing in experiences from leading exhibition centres from across the world, commenting on the regional development currently taking place and the opportunities they present.