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DWTC events generated AED 12 billion in value retained within Dubai’s economy during 2015

Gulfood at DWTC

Unprecedented international participation at DWTC MICE events fuels strong 3.1% GDP contribution

The latest Economic Impact Assessment report released by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), has revealed that the spend associated with large-scale exhibitions, trade events, conventions and conferences hosted at DWTC in 2015 has contributed AED 12 billion in retained value towards Dubai’s economy, equivalent to 3.1 percent of the emirate’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The 2015 annual report also focused on the cross-sectoral impact of MICE events driving incremental value across tourism, travel, hospitality and entertainment industries, collectively supporting over 80,400 jobs as an immediate effect of hosting these events at DWTC. Estimating the total economic output at over AED 20.9 billion for the 2015 period, the study further makes the case that nearly 57% of all the layers of spend generated by these events has been retained within the domestic economy, reflecting the strength of the MICE Sector value chain in Dubai.  

The whitepaper commissioned in 2015 provides a comprehensive research-backed assessment of the value being created as a result of spending associated with trade and business events – which extrapolates the trickle down impact of every one dirham of spend across various interrelated sectors. This econometric analysis covers key metrics such as total and retained contribution, cross-industry benefits, employment impact etc. – all with a view to provide further insight into the critical role that DWTC’s event calendar plays, not just in Dubai’s brand positioning as a regional business hub, but also very tangibly in its value creation for the economy.  

DWTC led the region’s MICE Sector activity in 2015, hosting 104 “large-scale” events that attracted a total of 2.6 million attendees through the year, of which 1.19 million were from overseas resulting in nearly 46% international participation at these events. The data represents a significant growth across both parameters when compared to the first economic impact report published by DWTC in 2011, which reported just over 30% international participation of a total of 1.3 million visitors to events at the venue that year.

Defined as events hosting more than 2,000 attendees, large-scale events that form the focus of this study emphasize the importance of both, scale growth and the ability to attract a global audience, as being critical pillars to driving economic value. Another key take-away is the ancillary benefit of each unit of MICE Sector linked spending to sectors within the broader value chain that ultimately drive a significant 5-fold multiplier effect. In other words, every AED 1 spent at a DWTC event created AED 5 in value for the wider Dubai economy in 2015.  

As a business that has been committed to delivering the most integrated commerce networking platform for the international community to trade with the wider region, DWTC has throughout its 37 years as the leading MICE player, built on the city’s geographic advantage to further Dubai’s position as a global business hub for trade within the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region. Assessing the MICE business contribution to the emirate and sustainably growing it are hence, a core part of DWTC’s strategic mandate.  

“DWTC is committed to Dubai’s economic diversification strategy firmly aligned to the Dubai Plan 2021, and is working towards contributing business visitors to the tourism target of 20 million visitors by 2020. The value being created by attracting and hosting business events in Dubai is unmistakably impactful for our domestic economy. As evidenced by the high growth across all key MICE Sector metrics from the number of mega-events, to the overseas participation and the larger spend per attendee that we are able to drive across related sectors within Dubai, DWTC has delivered a very strong CAGR on contribution to GDP over the past 3-4 years. With our ongoing capacity investments, we expect to continue to keep the momentum going on driving both, optimal scale and quality of content across our show calendar to ultimately allow business tourism to become an even greater economic engine for Dubai,” said His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority and Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.  

The 2015 study estimated that DWTC events generated AED 20.9 billion in total sales from event participation related spends, not including any commercial deals closed at, or resulting from the events, or the value of business partnerships established during the events. AED 14.9 billion of this value was directly driven by event participants with the MICE and adjacent sectors relating to travel, tourism, hospitality and entertainment. In fact, for every dirham spent within the MICE Sector, nearly 2-5 dirhams were consumed across related sectors, reflecting the high interdependence and value co-creation opportunity at an aggregate level.

An incremental 41% sales output was generated as a ripple effect of these direct spends, and referenced as indirect (production linked) and induced (consumption linked) economic impacts. DWTC’s 2015 economic impact report the MICE Sector’s ability to generate critical stimulus across the UAE’s tourism, aviation, hospitality and transport industries as a direct and consequential result of the expenditure of event organisers, exhibitors, sponsors, and participants. The report further assessed the key factors to enhance MICE Sector contribution – international attendance and scale.

During 2015, it was observed that international attendees to business events at DWTC stayed on average six (6) days and spent nearly AED 8,268 during their visit, which is nine times the average spend of UAE based attendees.  

“Every overseas participant at our venue is ultimately a visitor to Dubai and will benefit the wider tourism ecosystem from airlines and hotels, to retail and attractions across the city. Naturally, the massive multiplier effect of having international traffic drives much greater value to our GDP. Hence one of the priorities for DWTC is to ensure that our portfolio of events has the right content and quality across the sectors that are most appealing to source markets for visitors from the region as well as to attract the thought-leading exhibitors from around the globe. The fact that we have systematically doubled our international visitation figures in the last 4 years alone is evidence of the success of our efforts in this area, and is testament to Dubai’s recognised global position as the region’s business hub on the back of our incredibly sophisticated infrastructure and flight connectivity,” explained His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri.  

Scale of events was the other key strategic lever referenced by the report as critical to GDP value creation. Mega-events are reported to create four times more impact compared to smaller scale events where event scale is based on a threshold number of attendees – over 30,000 fall under the ‘mega’ category. DWTC hosted 23 mega-events (22% of the total events) that delivered nearly 54% international attendance compared to the 31 smaller events that had around 43% foreign traffic. The close correlation between event size and its propensity to deliver higher volumes of overseas attendance makes it a critical consideration as DWTC continues to work with its event organisers to drive growth or co-locate related events to achieve the same effect.  

The DWTC report based its findings on a rigorous economic impact analysis using an econometric model that measures the direct, indirect and induced effects generated by the incremental spending (demand) of individuals participating in DWTC’s events within Dubai and the resulting production (supply) driven effects to cater for higher demand in the local economy. The model was developed on an extensive data set covering statistics for 104 large scale events hosted at DWTC during 2015 (including duration, type, scale, sector profile, financial data etc.), and face-to-face field surveys of a broad cross-section of nearly 18,000 participants (spanning attendees, exhibitors and organisers) to achieve a 99 per cent confidence level in its estimations.  

The DWTC report highlighted the ability of the MICE Sector to sustainably generate wider value for Dubai’s GDP and particularly the ability of DWTC to attract high-profile global events that have successfully fuelled a significantly larger contribution to the emirate’s economy. DWTC will continue to invest in world-class facilities and services to secure events that are most relevant in the global context and sustain the value it generates for Dubai, the UAE and the region.

Helal Saeed Almarri summarised, “DWTC has been a key facilitator to building Dubai’s profile as a global business destination, leveraging the emirate’s heritage as a regional trading hub, continually enabling fortune-1000 companies and millions of their customers to connect each year at our venue, conduct business, forge partnerships and explore investment opportunities. This report combines in-depth understanding of business tourism and raises awareness of the far-reaching impact that DWTC as the platform for such interactions has, not just for Dubai, but also for the wider MENASA region. DWTC is committed to ensuring that business tourism remains integral to the economic success of the UAE and, indeed, the wider region.”

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