GCC's profile rises in conventions sector
GCC's profile is rising in conferences and conventions sector
The GCC's profile is rising amongst players in the conferences and conventions industry, presenting Gulf countries with an economic opportunity, according to industry experts.
“We have seen events that were due to take place in Europe and the US relocate to Gulf countries due to concerns around accessibility and safety,” said geographic representative for the Middle East for the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, “There is a growing demand to host events in the Gulf, and the evidence can be seen in the broad expansion of event facilities – we expect venue capacity to double in the next five years across the GCC.”
According to Julfar, who also holds the position of vice president-Commercial in the Dubai World Trade Centre, business events such as conferences and conventions present a potential for the diversification of economies in the Gulf. “This sector alone contributes 3.1% directly to Dubai’s GDP,” he commented.
Julfar spoke at the ICCA Meetings Industry Developments Workshop, organised by Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), which brought together members of the business events industry, including venues, professional conference organisers and destination management companies.
Sixty-three professionals from across the region attended and participated in the workshop. Held as part of QTA’s efforts to empower the private business events sector, the workshop introduced participants to the criteria for a successful bid strategy and presented ways to benefit from the ICCA database of international associations.
“None of the growth we achieve in this sector can be sustainable if we work on our own – only collectively as an industry can we meet the needs of meeting planners and business tourists searching for the ideal destination. That is why we are focusing on empowering the private sector to bid for and host global events,” commented QTA director of exhibitions Ahmed Al Obaidli “Our aim is for workshops such as these to help the private sector develop the skills to research and deliver successful bids, and to understand more about how they can benefit from ICCA.”
As a member of ICCA, Qatar is seeking a 20% increase in visitors over the next five years, and expects a large portion of the increase to come from visitors attending business events. Efforts have resulted in significant growth in the number of ICCA events hosted, with 14 hosted in 2016 and more expected in 2017. In addition, QTA has confirmed agreements with 27 Qatari organisations who will be bidding, alongside QTA, for international events.
ICCA is a global body that specialises in the international association meetings sector, with members in 90 countries.