GIBTM 2013 closed today on a high note having attracted a record number of buyers from the corporate meetings sector as the booming Gulf economies attract corporate travellers, trade delegations and other business groups.

gibtm13-2The seventh edition of the show, which kicked off at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on Monday and closes today (March 27), tripled corporate meetings buyer attendance accounting for 35% of all hosted buyers attending the show, compared to 11% from the corporate sector in 2012.

The total number hosted buyers was evenly split between the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific, with first-timers attending from key growth markets for the Middle East including Australia, South Africa and Azerbaijan.

“According to Standard & Poor’s latest forecast, GDP growth within the Gulf economies will reach 4.6% in 2013, valuing the GCC economy at $1.5 trillion, which compares very favourably with many flatling western economies, facing prolonged austerity and sluggish growth,” said GIBTM Exhibition Manager Lois Hall.

“As a consequence the region is clearly attracting an increasing number of meetings, incentives and business travellers, especially from key regional and international trading partners. We have also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of overseas destinations, looking to attract meetings and incentive groups from the Middle East,” added Hall.

In addition to the hike in corporate meetings buyers at the show, the number of decision-makers from the potentially-lucrative international associations sector attending GIBTM more than trebled in size.

Exhibitors including hotel operator Rotana, Qatar Tourism Authority and Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) said they were impressed with the quality of the buyers at this year’s show because they covered key source markets and sectors.

Vicky Varfis, corporate vice president sales and revenue, Rotana, which is targeting 25% growth in meetings business across its portfolio of properties in 2013, said: “We have had a good number of appointments with top quality regional and global buyers at this show and we are confident that similar to last year, these appointments and leads will materialise into solid bookings.”

Qatar Tourism Authority’s (QTA) director of tourism development Abdulla Al Bader said, “With 110 hotels and hotel apartments currently under construction and the opening of the Doha Convention Centre next year, we are clearly focused on developing world-class infrastructure to support the business tourism sector.”