Business destinations in the EU are now on the cusp of an influx of business travellers from the UAE, after the European Parliament voted for Emiratis to be exempt from obtaining visas to visit any of the 25 Schengen countries last week.
“A further announcement will be made regarding the execution of the decision, but effectively this means Emiratis will be able to travel freely to 25 countries in the EU for periods of up to 90 days without a visa, said Lois Hall, Exhibition Manager of the Gulf Incentives, Business Travel and Meetings Expo, (GIBTM) which takes place at The Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) on 24-26 March 2014.
After a similar decision by the UK to relax visa requirements for UAE nationals (online visa applications 48 hours in advance), the stage is set for a whole new chapter of business travel from the region, certainly if the scheme is extended to other Gulf nations.
Ready to benefit from the new ruling at this year’s GIBTM, is the European pavilion, which contains 19 companies and destinations, and is 66% larger than last year. Debutants include companies such as Spain’s Iberostar, Barcelo Hotels and Resorts, I’way Express from the Czech Republic, Talaria Experience from Madrid, as well as Arsenal Football Club.
France alone receives over 22,000 visitors from the UAE, each year, and according to an exclusive Ernst & Young report, which is to be revealed at GIBTM, Paris is the most preferred destination for Middle Eastern business travellers. London comes in at number two and Frankfurt at number five. The report also forecasts acceleration in business travel, both inbound, and outbound from the Middle East region.
“Over 66% of the world’s population lies within an eight hour flight of UAE, giving the region unparalleled leverage to become the future global hub for business travellers. Indeed Middle Eastern carriers already share 7% of the global market which the Airbus Global Market Forecast 2013 estimates will grow to 11% by 2031, an annual growth rate of 7.3%, higher by 2% than any other geographical region in the world,” added Hall.
But it’s not just the UK and the EU looking for a greater share of the regional MICE market. The Asia pavilion at the show this year includes Thailand and Korea who are also looking at attracting the lucrative Middle East outbound business.
These trends and much more will be presented at the GIBTM seminar sessions which will include Business Travel in the Middle East and ‘The habits of Middle Eastern business travellers’, based on research conducted by, international professional services firm, Ernst and Young. In addition, the highly anticipated ‘Launch of the Middle East MICE Buyers Report’ where Rob Davidson of the University of Greenwich in London will present the results of the Middle Eastern Meeting Planners' Site Selection Survey - brand new research which demonstrates the factors that are most important to Middle Eastern meeting planners when they are deciding where to locate their events.
The two seminar sessions will look at the current MICE trends throughout the region and offer invaluable trending insights and business forecasts.
This year’s GIBTM will accommodate 300 exhibitors from 35 countries including up to 300 influential Hosted Buyers that will attend the event, with 8,500 pre-scheduled appointments. Representatives from major companies including Kuoni Events, TE Connectivity, UHY International, Medicongress, Mary Kay, HelmsBriscoe, FEI Company, China International Medicine Exchange Association International Service Center, Contendam and Portigon Financial Services have all been accepted onto the highly sought after programme.