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Abu Dhabi launches business events bureau.

The UAE capital has launched the new Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau to drive forward its business events ambitions as the emirate looks to be ranked by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) as among the world's top 50 association meetings destinations in five years.

A new dedicated, one-stop entity within Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) - the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau -will support the growth of exhibitions and conferences within the emirate by forging closer links with the industry and providing financial and non-financial support.

"We will provide free, and non-biased assistance and support to professional convention, incentive and exhibition planners, corporations and associations so that they can bid for, win and hold conferences, major business events, business meetings and congresses in Abu Dhabi," explained Jasem Al Darmaki, the deputy director general, TCA Abu Dhabi.

"This is a clear signal to the maturing local and regional business events industry and its international counterpart, that Abu Dhabi is prioritising their sector as never before and is a move totally aligned to Abu Dhabi's 2030 economic vision," he stated.

"The bureau's formation also demonstrates our recognition of the potential of exhibitions, conferences and business events - the MICE sector - to contribute to Abu Dhabi's wider tourism aspirations and generate significant economic impact for the destination through increasing visitor numbers, hotel occupancies, flights and other visitor and exhibitor spend," added Al Darmaki.

According to him, the new bureau is an enabler platform that will drive and support the development and promotion of business events throughout the emirate efficiently, effectively and transparently, in partnership with all its stakeholders.

"Its mission is to champion the emirate as a dynamic global business events leader," he stated.

The bureau, which will have both expatriate and Emirati expertise, will provide a range of services to the industry including bid presentation support, delegate generation campaigns, local stakeholder co-ordination and knowledge, on-site destination advice, government support co-ordination and marketing assistance.

"We are targeting six major business wins this year, a further eight next year and a total of 10 wins during 2015," revealed Al Darmaki.

"Our strategy will be to target in-market opportunities that will generate incremental business in the short term while building on international relationships for the long term," he stated.

"Our timing could not be better. We have our most competitive room rates ever - which can be a deciding factor for major associations and business event organisers looking to secure a host destination and our available hotel stock is now well-suited to large events," he added.

In 2011, ICCA ranked Abu Dhabi 234 in the world for the eight major meetings held in the destination, said Al Darmaki. "We have more than doubled that last year and realistically expect to be within ICCA's Top 150 when the rankings are announced in the next few months."

The launch of the new entity follows a detailed economic impact study commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi which showed that 19 per cent of international business events visitors coming to the emirate were international and not resident in the UAE.

These visitors spent Dh10,000 ($2,723) per event while domestic visitors spent Dh640. In 2010 the total economic impact of business events on Abu Dhabi was Dh2.4 billion.

"There are also compelling socio-economic benefits resulting from this sector including improved education quality across various sectors, knowledge and technology transfer, research collaborations, destination and opportunity awareness, the positioning of Abu Dhabi as a thought leader, the ongoing development of human capital and the catalysing of inward investment," explained Al Darmaki.

In addition, studies commissioned by TCA Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) suggest the economic impact from business events in Abu Dhabi is expected to increase by approximately 7% per annum on average up until 2020 based on historic performance.

"The study findings make good reading all-round," said Ali Saeed Bin Harmel Al Dhaheri, the Adnec managing director. "However, given the newly-formed Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, this can potentially increase at a much higher rate - by up to 10 per cent compound average growth rate per annum over the next 10 years," he added.

The emergence of the new bureau follows a growing appetite for Abu Dhabi as a major convention destination over the past year and a huge surge in its major business events credentials following last year's successful staging, at Adnec of the World Ophthalmology Congress (WOC) and a number of subsequent competitive congress wins.

"WOC 2012 was a watershed for Abu Dhabi's international convention ambitions - it remains the largest congress held in the emirate with upwards of 12,000 delegates arriving at ADNEC for the convention - 80% of them first-time visitors to the emirate," said Mubarak Al Nuaimi, the director (Promotions & Overseas Offices) TCA Abu Dhabi.

"The Congress delivered significant direct economic benefit to the emirate of $21.8 million with an average delegate spend of $523. Of course the return for the emirate was actually much more substantial once combined with the indirect economic benefit, such as spend in local shops on services, souvenirs and at attractions and tours," he revealed.

"The business event visitor is traditionally a higher spender than the leisure tourist - sometimes by up to seven times as much," added Al Nuaimi.

Also on Abu Dhabi's expanding major business events calendar are: this November's International Conference on Neurology & Epidemiology, which is due to be attended by 600-800 of the most eminent medical practitioners in these specialised fields.

"We beat off competition from Paris, Milan, Macau and Boston to win the hosting of this event's first showing outside of Europe," explained Al Nuaimi.

"We have the facilities, infrastructure, service record and proven experience to now present our case against the longer-established competitors," he added.

To strengthen the emirate's standing as a business events hub, the new bureau has partnered with top organisations including: The Energy Cities Alliance; the Future Convention Cities Initiative; the International Congress and Conventions Association; Meeting Professionals International; the Society of Incentive Travel Executives and UFI - the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.-TradeArabia News Service

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Publication:TradeArabia (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Mar 4, 2013
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