As GIBTM - the Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition, which was held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre this week - draws to a close for another year, exhibitors and buyers alike are universally describing the show as highly successful and the best in its five year history.
GIBTM 2011 has attracted over 2,100 visitors and buyers, which is an 11 per cent increase compared to last year and 20 per cent more exhibiting companies - in actual numbers 275 - from nearly 20 international countries participated in this year’s show. These unaudited figures demonstrate the great success of this year’s show and the interest in the Middle East meetings industry.
GIBTM’s professional education programme saw numbers top over 300, which is nearly double the amount of participants in comparison to 2010 - another record for the event - making it the largest Middle East education gathering of industry professionals.
Summing up the week’s event, Lloyd Kenyon, GIBTM’s Exhibition Manager, said the overall standard of GIBTM 2011 had been very high. “The objective for us has been to drive business and deliver value for all those attending the event. We have seen a great deal of optimism throughout the show and received very positive feedback.”
Dennis Speet, Director of Marketing and Sales of the International Congress and Convention Association said he had found GIBTM 2011 to be very successful. “We decided to attend GIBTM to make new contacts. We have 30 members from the Middle East and many of our international members have been present at GIBTM this year including Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Korea and Indonesia to name but a few.”
Sian Thomas, the UAE representative of SITE - the only global authority connecting motivational experiences with business results – said “We have been participating at GIBTM since its inception, initially to raise awareness and now to meet interesting people to recruit. The show went well, and the first two days especially were full for us. We met with lots of potential new members.”
Khameis Al Hefaity of Fujairah Tourism, which was exhibiting for the first time at GIBTM, said that they were very happy that they had decided to exhibit this year. “What differentiates Fujairah from other destinations besides the sun, sand and sea is that we also have mountains, several historic sites, bull fights that have become a tradition and the Al Wurayah waterfalls, from where the entire valley can be seen. GIBTM is a great show and we now have many good business leads.”
On behalf of the Government of Sharjah, Tariq Saeed Allay affirmed that this year was especially successful compared to the last years: “We are focusing on marketing Sharjah as a destination full of culture. The show was busy for us and we had interest from a variety of countries – domestic, European and from within the GCC.”
Puripan Bunnag, Director of Meetings and Incentives, from Thailand Tourism said “We are expecting the Middle East to offer many new business opportunities and decided to attend GIBTM to scope out the potential and hopefully enter a market that is new to Thailand.”
Many of the Hosted Buyers in particular were highly enthusiastic of the potential for business within the UAE. Rose Zhang, Deputy Director of CTS Mice Service, for instance, said that the UAE is becoming more and more popular among Chinese people. “It is a relatively new destination for us and GIBTM gives us a chance to enter a new market and work closely with the UAE. There are numerous MICE facilities present, with many more in development, making it an ideal place to plan meetings and exhibitions.”
Ashraf S. Elashri, Managing Director of Adam Travel concurred. “The UAE is very successful. I lived 16 years in the US and have never seen such development in terms of MICE facilities.”
“With record numbers packing into the seminar theatre, and exhibitors and hosted buyers alike reporting record numbers of meetings, it will indeed be a major challenge for next year’s show to be even bigger and better than this year; but rest assured that this will be our aim. We look forward to seeing all our 2011 visitors and exhibitors next time, while hopefully attracting newcomers to make GIBTM 2012 yet another record breaking show,” Kenyon concluded.
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