Proper education in the local language will promote better understanding of the industry; further participation of UAE and Arab nationals will bring local and regional authenticity to events
The success of the second day at the 6th Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM), was highlighted by a well-attended first-of-its-kind free interactive Arabic session hosted by Ali Al Saloom of the Ask Ali.com fame, where matters pertaining to the meetings industry were explained.
As the aim of the session was to educate UAE nationals and Arabic-speaking meetings professionals on the industry, the session focused on what business travel means for the UAE and the region, what possibilities it provides for the Middle East, as well as to demonstrate the value it holds for the economy.
Among the topics discussed in the session was ‘Emiratisation in tourism’ wherein the importance of UAE nationals getting more involved in the tourism industry and how being on the front line – such as speaking to guests, demonstrating Arab hospitality and becoming a main contact for travelers – would help in bringing about authentic UAE culture to the industry.
“The UAE is already a well-established tourism destination, and leisure travelers from all over the world come here to have a good time,” said Ali Al Saloom, a well-recognized industry expert and Cultural Tourism Consultant at Embrace Arabia Consultancy. “With its multicultural atmosphere, the UAE is an ideal place for people to meet and do business.
“We have outstanding venues, easy access to almost every part of the world and excellent travel infrastructure. Now, we need to focus on how to brand, market and utilise the destination with all its potential, and define and promote our unique selling point,” Ali added.
In order to do that, Ali explained that UAE nationals and other Arabic-speaking professionals have to have a better understanding of the industry and for them to actively participate in it in order to bring out the authentic local and regional culture to the global audience.
“We see the business travel sector as important but regionally, it is not yet well understood. Therefore, by explaining the industry in Arabic, we are creating awareness of the entire spectrum and its commercial potential,” Ali said.
“In order to be sustainable, we need to be authentic, in order to do so, we need the local touch and local people to be involved and visible as hosts for our international guests. Once we have strong local participation in the industry, we can then emphasise on creating unique experiences that are really ‘Made-in-the-UAE’, he added.
“We are truly amazed by the response that this new Arabic session to the educational programme has brought to the entire event,” said Lois Hall, Reed Travel Exhibitions Manager GIBTM. “As a groundbreaking addition at GIBTM, we wish to thank Mr. Ali Al Saloom for his invaluable contribution to the first-ever Arabic seminar in the region solely dedicated to the MICE industry.”
The continued success of GIBTM over the years and during this year’s edition has been in the amount of business and exposure that every participant and exhibitor derives out of the show.
“GIBTM is a very successful show, and we have been part of it since its inception six years ago,” said Tariq Saeed Allay, Government of Sharjah. “The first day has provided us with a great opportunity to promote Sharjah, its world class facilities and even its festivals. We had approximately 15 appointments today and have been fascinated by the Ask Ali session in Arabic.”
“The first day has been very productive with maximum attendance from our scheduled hosted buyers,” said Ahmad Shaban, InterContinental Hotels Group Jordan. “We had lots of straightforward inquiries, no shopping around, which is great. As a first time exhibitor, the show has been excellent for us so far and we are focusing on driving the MICE facilities at our hotels.”
“India witnessed a one million increase in visitor numbers in 2011 compared to 2010, and is already seeing a rise of three percent this year over last year’s quarterly figures,” said Sudhir Kumar, India Tourism. “There is a high level of interest from the Middle East, and even more so from Saudi Arabia. We have had about 20 appointments today and look forward to a successful show over all three days.”
“From day one’s response and the many inquiries, GIBTM has been very positive,” Jabbar Ibrahim, Kuwait Tourism Services said. “We are exhibiting for the first time, and from what we learned today, the show has a promising outlook and is helping promote our companies and increase their exposure.”
“We are very pleased with the outcome of GIBTM this year so far, we launched a number of exciting new initiatives, such as the Business Travel focused sessions with world the leading Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), the first ever Arabic educational session, a cutting-edge Technology Zone, a European Pavilion and the GIBTM mobile app from market leader ShowGizmo. We have received positive feedback from exhibitors, visitors and hosted buyers so far,” concluded Lois.
Held under the patronage of Chairman, HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, GIBTM 2012’s distinguished industry partners include Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, ADNEC, AskAli.com, Etihad Airways and The Vision Destination Management Company. Meetme, published by NPI, is a global media partner and publisher of the official show daily publication.
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