Meeting point

The AIBTM (January 30-31) offers a perfect meeting spot for decision makers in the Arab MICE industry.

A total of 100 companies from 20 different destinations will take part in this month's second Arab International Business Travel and Meetings (AIBTM) exhibition in Bahrain.

Organisers ITE Middle East also expect visitor numbers to grow to about 2,000 during the two-day event which is the premier trade show for the Middle East MICE industry.

AIBTM 2002 will be held under the patronage of Bahrain's Information Minister and Chairman of the Supreme Council for Tourism, at the Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre on January 30-31.

ITE said it hopes to build on the success of the inaugural event which brings together decision makers from key industry players including airlines, event management companies, trade publications, conference venues, ground agents, technology partners, hotels, trade associations, convention and visitor bureaux, destination management firms and national tourist organisations.

It said the global travel industry setback sparked by the September 11 terror attacks has had little impact on the only MICE event in the Middle East market.

"The number of exhibitors has already grown. The show has only been effected by the global situation in a positive way," an ITE spokesperson said.

"We have had no cancellations and the exhibitors feel the show is now more important to intra-Arab MICE business."

The meetings and incentives sector of the tourism industry is growing in the Middle East with more destinations in the region realising the potential of the highly lucrative sector MICE in the longer term, ITE said.

"The Middle East as a whole has a wealth of positive attributes, that compete with all other regions of the world in terms of quality of venues, safety, service delivery and an ever-improving infrastructure to cater for this segment of the market," the spokesperson said.

"With the recent World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha, the region is developing a more high profile international presence and acceptance as an international player in the MICE industry."

ITE said that Bahrain, which lies at the heart of a regional population of over 200 million people, is the perfect location to reach out to the whole of the Middle East.

"Bahrain is already the financial and business for the Middle East region, and with the only established convention bureau in the region and a commitment to being the regional centre for C & I industry, it makes sense to hold the show in Bahrain," the spokesperson said.

The event will include a full programme of seminars run by Meetings Professional International (MPI) focusing on various issues affecting the MICE industry.

The conference program is as follows:

January 30:

9-10am: Industry Trends - Didier Scaillet - MPI.

4.30-5.30pm: Destination Management - Patrick Delaney, Delaney Marketing and Jesper Denker - JDS Meeting Services.

January 31:

9-10am: The role of professional societies in the meeting industry - Didier Scaillet - MPI.

AIBTM 2002 is supported by the International Congress and Convention Association, MPI, Meeting Planner, Travel & Tourism News Middle East,, Middle East and Mediterranean Incentive and

Gulf Hotel is the official venue of the event while Gulf Air is the official airline.

ITE Middle East also organises the Bahrain International Motor Show and plans to launch other industry events.