Exhibition spotlights growing potential of MICE in region

Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer looks at the TTN stand at the AIBTM.

Several hundred meetings, incentive travel, convention and exhibition (MICE) professionals from across the world gathered in Bahrain for a two-day tourism conference and exhibition at the end of last month which was opened by Information Minister Nabeel Al Hamer.

The Arab International Business Travel and Meetings (AIBTM) 2002 was held at the Gulf Hotel's Gulf International Convention and Exhibition Centre (GICEC).

The event was organised by ITE Middle East in conjunction with the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

"The MICE industry generates more than $3 billion annually," said Al Hamer, who is also Supreme Council for Tourism chairman.

"As Bahrain's tourism sector expands and diversifies, the MICE sector of travel and tourism has become an increasingly important speciality."

Worldwide MICE professionals, said Al Hamer, were continually seeking new and innovative destinations, venues and holiday activities.

"Bahrain is positioning itself well in the MICE global arena to capture its market segment," he added.

"Some limited promotional events that we have staged have already seen results."

ITE Middle East project manager Joanne Loder said the exhibition showcased more than 80 worldwide airlines, events management companies, trade publications, conferences venues, ground agents, technology providers, hotels, trade associations and convention and visitors bureaus.

"We have twice as many participants at this year's show as we did last year," she said.

Ms Loder said Bahrain, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Malaysia, Tunisia, Thailand and Jordan all sponsored national pavilions with a range of MICE industry representatives in attendance on each stand.

She said other participants included Kuwait Airways, Gulf Air, Abha Hotels Group, Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts.

Two workshops provided guidelines for MICE professionals.

In the first seminar, UK-based Meeting Professionals International European operations director John Didler Scalliet highlighted industry trends in the first of two workshops for MICE professionals.

Scalliet examined an overview on current global business and how last September's terrorist attacks in the US have impacted the industry.

He provided guidelines and what MICE professionals could do to raise the bar by outlining and following benchmarking procedures.

Scalliet suggested best practice procedures and ways to identify and explore future trends.

"Globalisation, the necessity to keep up-to-date with the latest technology, the increased speed of business, the exceptional growth of contacts to maintain, life-long learning ... all are important trends that affect our trade," he said.

UK-based Delaney Meetings managing director Patrick Delaney led the second workshop.

He spoke about destination management trends and what MICE professionals looked for in venues and locations.