gibtm-nodateGIBTM 2013 opens its doors today (Monday 25March) promising more opportunities to meet, learn and conduct business than ever before thanks to a flurry of new exhibitors, show initiatives and educational concepts.

This year’s event, which takes place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) from today until Wednesday (March 25-27), welcomes 70 brand new exhibitors to the show floor, with a substantial increase in European destinations and companies represented.

Show space has increased 7% on 2012, with more than 35 countries participating and first-time destinations including Madrid , Serbia, Athens, Georgia, Morocco, Ukraine, San Francisco and Belgium, while existing exhibitors including the Kingdom of Bahrain, Ministry of Culture, Tourism Sector, Jordan Tourism Board and Etihad Airways have at least doubled the size of their stand compared to 2012.

From a visitor perspective, more than 2,800 industry professionals, spanning local and international meeting planners and corporate and incentive travel buyers will attend and under GIBTM’s Hosted Buyer programme, including 265 senior influential buyers representing lucrative vertical sectors such as Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, IT, Finance and Automotive are expected.

With a strong number of key decision makers secured for the show, GIBTM organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), anticipates more than 7,500 pre-scheduled appointments to take place.

“This substantial increase in interest from suppliers and influential buyers is evidence that after a slow but sustained recovery, since 2009, regional business travel in all forms is firmly back on track due to confidence in the regional economy and a plethora of world-class venues and facilities being developed that are attracting global interest,” said GIBTM Exhibition Manager Lois Hall.

“This bullish outlook is further supported by the findings of the 2013 GIBTM Trends Report, which will be unveiled at a highly anticipated seminar session this afternoon, with 80% of global and Middle East buyers forecasting a increase in conference and events business in the GMENA region in the next 12 months,” she added.

Figures released by GIBTM host destination Abu Dhabi reveal business events contributed AED 2.4 billion to the emirate’s economy in 2010. This is expected to increase to AED 2.6 billion by the end of 2013. Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) anticipates the economic impact of business events to grow 7% each year until 2020.

As the meetings and corporate travel sectors grow, so too do the educational needs of industry professionals and GIBTM has responded to this by boosting its education programme.

This year session highlights that focus on upcoming industry trends include ‘The Future of Meetings: Flash Forward 2030’ with MPI research revealing the impact of trends on business practices and required skill sets, and the GIBTM Trends Report 2013, providing insight into buyer and supplier behaviour and market performance.

Also on the agenda is a series of interactive sessions focused on business travel management, hosted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), including a panel discussion on ‘How to Maximise your Middle East Travel Management Programme’ looking at how travel and meetings buyers can collaborate save time and money.

The use of technology and its impact on meetings is also a focus of the GIBTM educational programme, with a brand new feature area on the show floor, Event Camp Middle East 2013. This hybrid event will include seminar sessions featured at the show and online for delegates who can’t attend.