Bahrain’s tourism recovery is being buoyed by significant growth in its MICE sector as interest in the established Gulf destination piques once again.
To further stimulate meetings business to Bahrain, the destination is ramping up its participation at the upcoming Gulf Incentives, Business, Travel and Meetings (GIBTM), which takes place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from 24-26 March 2014.
In addition to participating at the event, Bahrain’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism is one of three key regional National Tourism Offices (NTOs) supporting a brand new post-show familiarisation trip programme.
The familiarisation trips are designed to provide GIBTM’s Hosted Buyers with an insight into business and meetings facilities offered in Bahrain and fellow programme launch partner destinations, Qatar and Jordan.
“Bahrain has recognised the important role the meetings industry will play in the country’s economic revitalisation and is investing in tried-and-tested sales and marketing vehicles such as GIBTM, which provides a platform for further boosting its MICE business,” said GIBTM Exhibition Manager Lois Hall.
“By backing GIBTM’s new post-show familiarisation trip initiative, the awareness of Bahrain’s key MICE-related attributes will be heightened amongst a community of key industry decision makers from Europe, Asia and The Americas who are looking to stage meetings and events in the Gulf.”
The Kingdom has confirmed it will host 15 GIBTM Hosted Buyers who will visit hotels, venues and event locations such as the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIECC), which is Bahrain’s largest column-free facility with nearly 16,000 square metres of exhibition and meeting space.
The Bahrain Exhibition & Convention Authority (BECA) has reported mammoth 116% hike in the number of exhibitions and conferences staged, with 82 events in 2012 compared to 38 in 2011, as corporate confidence in the destination returns.
The amount of exhibition space booked at the BIECC grew 19% to 1.9 million square metres in 2012 (compared to 1.6 million in 2011); the number of exhibitors increased 51% to 3,099 in 2012 compared to 2,047 in 2011; and the number of event visitors improved 46% last year.
BECA said the BD1.6 million (US $4.25 million) revenue it posted in 2012 represented a 34% increase on 2011 figures and anticipated the revival of the exhibition and convention industry witnessed last year would gain further momentum in 2013 and 2014.
Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), home to the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, is another venue highlight, with dedicated conference, meeting and event space capable of handling between 10 and 10,000 guests and track hire also on offer.
In the future, Bahrain’s credentials as a meetings hub will be further boosted with the introduction of new hotels and destinations.
Hilton Worldwide is planning to invest BD60 million ($159 million) in Manama, opening its first DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in 2015. The 350-room property, part of a mixed-used development, will also boast meetings facilities.
Meanwhile, the Hawar Islands, south-east of Bahrain’s mainland, have been earmarked for development in a bid to create an eco-tourism destination ideal for incentives and corporate retreats.
The hosted buyers taking part in the post-GIBTM familiarisation trip will leave ADNEC on Wednesday 26th March at 2pm, returning by midday on Saturday 29th March.In addition GIBTM will also include Business Travel @ GIBTM, which is sponsored by Capital Gate Hyatt, and will feature specialist exhibitors within the Business Travel Zone, a dedicated Business Travel Knowledge programme and exclusive networking opportunities for this specific sector.
The 2014 show will also feature the first-ever GIBTM-hosted ‘Market Focus on Asia’ event along with a dedicated Asia Pavilion; and the sourceme Pavilion, in partnership with Nicholas Publishing InternationaI (NPI), which will showcase the region’s leading event service suppliers.