Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) will run at the new Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from March 13-15, where participants will be given a glimpse of the UAE capital’s future plans for penetrating the lucrative Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. The UAE capital is gearing up to launch a major thrust on the Business Tourism sector within three years.
‘We are currently putting the necessary infrastructure in place but we want participants, and particularly the show’s hosted buyers, to know what the future holds,’ said His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), under whose patronage GIBTM is being held.
‘Business Tourism planning is often carried out two or three years or more in advance of events so it is important that the international industry is aware of the steps we are taking and the progress being made to create a new and exciting destination for this specific industry segment.’
The Business Tourism industry forms an integral element of Abu Dhabi’s ambitions to attract three million tourists by 2015 - up from the current level of just over one million.
‘Investment in the new Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre is a clear demonstration of our determination to play an incisive role in developing Business Tourism,’ said Sheikh Sultan.
ADNEC’s Phase One will host GIBTM and when complete, the state-of-the-art venue will offer 55,000 square metres of interconnecting exhibition space, including a 3,168 square metre atrium, 18,000 square metres of U-shaped concourse, 2,000 square metres of food courts and a multi-storey car park.
‘Four of the world’s leading exhibition organising companies - including Reed Travel Exhibitions, which is behind GIBTM, have confirmed as foundation partners for the new venue and jointly are bringing more than 30 additional shows to the centre,’ explained Sheikh Sultan.
The ADTA recognizes that to stage international exhibitions and conferences a solid hospitality stock needs to be available and steps have been taken to substantially increase hotel room inventory in the UAE capital with investment from both the public and private sector.
‘There is a significant number of world-class projects in the pipeline and the private sector has been encouraged by the fact that occupancy rates are now averaging around 84% - which is one of the highest in the region, so investors are now eager to move in,’ said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, ADTA and Managing Director of the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) - an independent public joint stock charged with developing ADTA’s tourism assets.’
Abu Dhabi is now planning to, and around 17,000 hotel rooms, by 2015. The ADTA has approved investment packages for 4,500 new rooms to be added over the next three years with the most imminent being the Shangri-La Hotel Qaryat Al Beri due to open in the next few months.
‘A substantial number of projects which have been given the go-ahead also have dedicated convention and meeting room facilities with investors having realised the potential for business gatherings in a capital which still has a strong B2B focus,’ said Al Muhairi.
Adding to the equation is Abu Dhabi’s recent flurry of major sporting event announcements - most notably that the UAE capital will host a Formula One race in 2009.This feather in Abu Dhabi’s cap adds to a sporting portfolio which also boasts the annual European Tour sanctioned Abu Dhabi Golf Championships and the ‘Race of Champions’ cycling event to be held in November this year with a prize fund of US $1 million - the richest in the cycling world even outpacing the Tour de France.
‘These events are taking Abu Dhabi’s name to the world and hopefully bringing the world to Abu Dhabi. Our focus now is to get a solid infrastructure behind us to provide one of the most exciting new venues for a Business Tourism industry which is constantly seeking innovation,’ said Al Muhairi.
High on Abu Dhabi’s long-term Business Tourism agenda is the transformation of the Cultural District on Saadiyat Island - a natural island lying 500 metres offshore the UAE capital into a global cultural hub. The district will house the Middle East’s first and only Guggenheim contemporary art museum designed by Pritzker prize winner Frank Gehry, a Classical Museum, designed by Jean Nouvel of France, a Performing Arts Centre, designed by British/Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid and a Maritime Museum, designed by Japan’s noted architect Tadao Ando. It will also feature a Biennale Park with 19 pavilions devoted to arts and culture.
‘The Cultural District is the biggest cultural statement made this century and will offer corporations unique Business Tourism facilities for conventions, launches and incentive packages,’ added Al Muhairi.
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