Gulf, Middle East region set for meetings and events growth(1)

ABU DHABI - The Gulf Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM)'s Fourth Middle East Meetings Industry Report presented on Tuesday, provided valuable insights into the developing meetings industry across the Gulf and wider Middle East region. The report predicts significant growth potential, with increased numbers of events using a wider range of destinations.The 2010 report produced responses from 458 buyers from 57 countries. Fifty-eight percent of respondents had held events in the region over the last twelve months with 25 percent having organised more events than in the previous year; the most frequently organised type of event being incentive travel and meetings. Events had been held in 26 different destinations with the most popular being Dubai, Egypt, Abu Dhabi, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar and Oman. Both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia had slipped down the chart since last year. Those destinations where buyers expected to hold events in the next year were headed by Dubai followed by Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Morocco, Oman and Jordan.The mean expenditure for events in the region dropped slightly to US$495,400 from US$505,000 in 2009.  Thirty-five percent had seen budgets for the region increase, with 47 percent saying they have remained as last year and 18 percent seeing a decrease.In terms of influencing factors when placing an event, buyers put cost top of their list, followed by quality of accommodation and service, overall appeal of the destination, travel time and security.Overall, buyers are looking to the coming year with optimism with 50 percent believing they will organise more events.  Budgets will remain under pressure and with more destinations being considered for events, Dubai's dominance is likely to be challenged. The report also gathered responses from 72 suppliers with the largest proportion from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Suppliers have experienced lower levels of business in the region during 2009.  Fifteen percent reported that all their business took place in the Gulf/Middle East whilst the remaining 85 percent saw an average percentage of 12 percent of business reduced from 28% in the previous year. Most clients came from the pharmaceutical, medical and financial services sectors, with less this year from construction and engineering. The mean value of business in the region was US$966,000, down from US$1,030,350 last year, though 8% reported that the value of their business was over US$10,000,000. Topping the table of influencing factors to hold events were location, cost, quality of accommodation and meeting facilitiesOverall, suppliers are looking to 2010 with increased confidence, predicting increased volume of events.Despite concerns over budgets, 58 percent of suppliers believe that the region has the most growth potential as compared to anywhere else in the world."We have had a very positive response to the survey with 458 buyer respondents contributing this year, the largest number since the survey began," Sally Greenhill, managing director, The Right Solution Limited who compiled and independently analysed the report, said.  "Clearly 2009 saw a downturn in the region, however it was lower than that experienced in Europe and elsewhere. According to the predictions made by buyers, this year will see the region bounce back with increased numbers of events using a wider range of destinations. Overall, suppliers predict that the region has significant growth potential." Research for the report was undertaken by GIBTM, in conjunction with meetme during January and February 2010.  The full report can be found at

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