Exhibitors and visitors increase in spite of the Middle East troublesWhen you visit GIBTM, Reed’s Gulf MICE Exhibition held annually at ADNEC in Abu Dhabi, you will catch a glimpse of a slim blonde young lady many times, because Lois Hall is its very conscientious Exhibition Manager. She is here, there and everywhere. I was able to photograph HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, as he toured the stands on the opening day. Lois is also in my picture, as a host. I attended a presentation given to the press by Ali on behalf of the website Ask-Ali.com. Lois is on that picture, too.
In an interview, Lois needs no notes. She has all the facts and figures at her fingertips.
‘GIBTM has brought in 273 Hosted Buyers this year, an increase of 5%. Of these 105 are from the Middle East, with the Saudi Arabia contingent doubled. There are 105 buyers from Europe and 40 from Asia and Australia. Pre-arranged appointments between buyers and suppliers have increased to over 7,600.’ She goes on to add that the number of exhibitors is up by 17% to 332, with 36 countries represented compared with 32 last year.
The Arab Spring has obviously had an adverse effect on the show, with, for example, Egypt and Syria being notably and understandably absent. ‘But’, she says, ‘Jordan has returned after an absence, whilst Kuwait is exhibiting for the first time. Kuwait is currently investing $77bn in mega-projects that will give it a much higher profile as a MICE destination.’
Lois refers to EIBTM, held annually in Barcelona, as the ‘Mother Show’, which is not a regional event but a global event, with exhibitors from all parts of the world meeting buyers from everywhere.
‘GIBTM’, she explains, ‘is essentially regional. But it provides a two-way opportunity for business. It brings buyers from inside and outside the area to meet suppliers in the Gulf. At the same time, for exhibitors from New Zealand, Brunei and even Hungary, it provides the opportunity to meet buyers from the Gulf.’
She is also keen to point out that the show has an important educational element, bringing expertise to the region. ‘We have had quadrupled attendance at the specialist seminars and presentations’.
She emphasises that close co-operation between GIBTM and the Abu Dhabi authorities is essential and immensely helpful. The show is very much a partnership between Reed Travel Exhibitions and ADTC, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Tourism and Culture, whilst eight hotels have participated in the Hosted Buyer scheme.
Lois agrees that ‘the whole project is like a co-operative venture. GIBTM also enjoys the support of organisations such as ICCA, SITE, MPI and, new this year, ACTE, the Association of Corporate Travel executives.’
Pictured: Lois Hall introducing Ali of Ask-Ali.com