GIBTM 2013 will close today on a high note having attracted a record number of buyers from the corporate meetings sector as the booming Gulf economies attract corporate travellers, trade delegations and other business groups.
The seventh edition of the show saw triple the number of corporate meetings buyers in attendance, this year accounting for 35 per cent of all hosted buyers attending the show, compared to 11 per cent from the corporate sector in 2012.
The total number hosted buyers was evenly split between the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific, with first-timers attending from key growth markets for the Middle East including Australia, South Africa and Azerbaijan.
“According to Standard & Poor’s latest forecast, GDP growth within the Gulf economies will reach 4.6 per cent in 2013, valuing the GCC economy at $1.5 trillion, which compares very favourably with many flatling western economies, facing prolonged austerity and sluggish growth,” said GIBTM exhibition manager Lois Hall.
“As a consequence the region is clearly attracting an increasing number of meetings, incentives and business travellers, especially from key regional and international trading partners.
“We have also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of overseas destinations, looking to attract meetings and incentive groups from the Middle East,” added Hall.
In addition to the hike in corporate meetings buyers at the show, the number of decision-makers from the potentially-lucrative international associations sector attending GIBTM more than trebled in size.
With all eyes on China as a huge growth market for meetings business for the Middle East, GIBTM brought in a delegation of ten influential buyers to the show including first-time visitor to the UAE, Jeffery Huang, vice secretary-general and associate researcher at the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Services.
“This is a very good platform for us to find partners in potential conference destinations,” he said.
“I will now consider the Middle East for our world congress in 2017. This typically involves a two-day conference and three to five days of leisure for our delegates so I am looking at combining a few destinations, including the UAE, Oman and Qatar.”