Brand Update: Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau
TCA takes us behind the scenes of the new bureau
TCA Abu Dhabi director of promotions and overseas offices Mubarak Rashed Al Nuaimi outlines the significance behind the launch of Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau and explains how the emirate’s all-time low hotel rates are attracting big business
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) launched the Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau and website last month. The entity, formerly referred to as the authority’s Business Tourism Department, currently employs a team of seven with multi nationalities, and has been given an unspecified budget to boost the emirate’s ranking in the world’s top destinations for MICE.
“In 2011, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) ranked Abu Dhabi 234 in the world for the eight major meetings held in the destination. We have more than doubled that last year and realistically expect to be within ICCA’s Top 150 when the rankings are announced in the next few months,” TCA Abu Dhabi deputy director general HE Jasem Al Darmaki said upon the bureau’s launch.
Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau hopes to secure a spot in the top 50 destinations within the next five years by “forging closer links with the industry and providing financial and non-financial support”.
“We will provide free, and non-biased assistance and support to professional convention, incentive and exhibition planners, corporations and associations so they can bid for, win and hold conferences, major business events, business meetings and congresses in Abu Dhabi,” added Al Darmaki.
The bureau is targeting six major business wins in 2013, followed by eight in 2014 and 10 wins during 2015. TCA Abu Dhabi director of promotions and overseas offices Mubarak Rashed Al Nuaimi tells Hotelier that the authority is “on the verge” of signing one event related to the tourism industry. He adds that all six bids for 2013 are for events expected to attract less than 5000 delegates each.
“There’s another related to the medical industry which should be announced in the next three months,” says Al Nuaimi. The emirate has already secured the 20th Asia Pacific Congress of Cardiology, which will be staged at ADNEC in 2015. It will bring an anticipated 3000 medical specialists to the city, delivering estimated direct, indirect and induced economic impact of AED 60 million (US $16 million).
“These events won’t be as big as the World Ophthalmology Congress 2012 in Abu Dhabi [which took place from February 16-20 and attracted around 12,000 delegates], but there will be more senior-level professionals,” adds Al Nuaimi.
“That event has given us more confidence to go on and bid on bigger events. All of the departments came together [for the Congress] — the departments of transport and immigration — the government and private sectors came together to make it happen. All of us had a good experience and all the hotels in Abu Dhabi were very successful.”
Hey big spender
The launch of Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau follows a detailed economic impact study commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi which showed that 19% of international business events visitors coming to the emirate were international and not resident in the UAE.
These visitors spent AED 10,000 ($2723) per event while domestic visitors spent AED 640 ($174). In 2010 the total economic impact of business events on Abu Dhabi was AED 2.4 billion ($653 million).
“There are also compelling socio-economic benefits resulting from this sector including improved education quality across various sectors, knowledge and technology transfer, research collaborations, destination and opportunity awareness, the positioning of Abu Dhabi as a thought leader, the ongoing development of human capital and the catalysing of inward investment,” Al Darmaki explained during the launch event.
In addition, studies commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) suggest the economic impact from business events in Abu Dhabi is expected to increase by around 7% per annum on average up until 2020, based on historic performance.
Al Nuaimi tells Hotelier that studies had not focused on the impact of the growing MICE market on hotel performance but the authority said hotel rates, which were at an all-time low (averaging AED 454 ($124) in January 2013, a 10% drop from the same month in 2012), would increase the competitiveness of the emirate.
“Our timing could not be better. We have our most competitive room rates ever – which can be a deciding factor for major associations and business event organisers looking to secure a host destination and our available hotel stock is now well-suited to large events,” said Al Darmaki. “Our distinctive advantages are competitive rates, intelligent pricing, added value and innovative product”.
Select and stage
The emirate has numerous events already confirmed for the next three years, but Al Nuaimi explains that the bid targets of six events in 2012, increasing to eight in 2014 and 10 in 2015 are more selective. “We have bid for more, but in particular we’re bidding for those we really want to win”.
Abu Dhabi-hosted events already confirmed for 2013 include April’s World Travel & Tourism Global Summit at Jumeirah at Etihad Towers with more than 1000 of the world’s travel and tourism industry leaders expected, and June’s staging of The Institute of Travel & Tourism’s annual conference – the blue ribbon event of the UK’s travel and tourism industry at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. Around 450 of Britain’s travel and tourism decision-makers are expected to attend.
“Both these major events were secured through joint TCA Abu Dhabi-Etihad Airways bids,” says Al Nuaimi. “We continue to work with Etihad and other stakeholders to bring additional major business events to our shores.”
Furthermore, November’s International Conference on Neurology & Epidemiology will be attended by 600-800 medical practitioners, he adds.
The launch of Abu Dhabi Conventions Bureau and the focus on the MICE sector is in line with the goals set out in the Abu Dhabi’s 2030 economic vision.