The fourth edition of the Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition (GIBTM) confirmed that the premier meetings event in the Gulf, attracting the largest annual gathering of meeting professionals in the region, continues to drive and shape an expanding sector.

Initial unaudited figures saw record numbers of Hosted Buyers, over 260 from 40 countries, up 10% on 2009. A total of around 7,500 meetings took place with the 220 exhibitors – up from 6,390 last year.

Commenting on the show Graeme Barnett, GIBTM Exhibition Director said: “In what has been a particularly challenging time for the industry in the last year, the event has proven there are clear, optimistic signs that meeting and event planners are recognising the enormous potential the region has to do business. One only has to see the new hotel and venue developments opening or being planned for Abu Dhabi alone.

“In what was my last year as Exhibition Director of GIBTM, before taking the reins of EIBTM, the show in is in excellent shape to grow and expand from both a regional and international exhibitors’ perspective, and attract even more regional trade visitors.”

GIBTM’s three day education programme attracted over 200 regional and international attendees. GIBTM’s Association and Education Manger said: “We were delighted with the attendance and the quality of the sessions this year at GIBTM. The content of the programme reinforces the need for professional education at the show. One of the highlights was the presentation of the fourth GIBTM Middle East Meetings Research Report 2010, which gave a valuable in-sight into the spending patterns and the mood of the market in the region.

“We have already commenced the planning and development of the education programme for 2011 in partnership with ICCA, MPI and Site.”

Industry optimism from this year’s GIBTM is highlighted by some of the comments from exhibitors and Hosted Buyers.