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January 27, 2014

Middle East: EXPO 2020 to drive meetings industry

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Dubai’s World Expo 2020 win will drive a pan-regional meetings sector boom, industry professionals have proclaimed. 

The Expo, which will take place over a six-month period at the Dubai Trade Centre – Jebel Ali, will put the UAE and the wider GCC’s meetings and conference infrastructure and event organisation know-how firmly in the global spotlight, generating business event opportunities galore. 
“Having seen first-hand what a tremendous developmental and marketing impact the Expo made in 2010 on Shanghai, where ICCA recently held its own global congress, I am sure Expo 2020 will prove to be a massive stimulant to the entire (GCC) region’s meetings infrastructure and industry in general,” said ICCA CEO Martin Sirk.
 Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Strategy and Tourism Sector Development at Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said hosting Expo 2020 would have a “sizable impact on a wide range of sectors”, most notably tourism and meetings. 
“The positive impact will be felt far beyond the borders of the UAE – this will be the first World Expo held within the MENASA region and it will offer unprecedented opportunities to both the UAE and our neighbours,” he added. 
Dr Belhoul said the estimated economic impact of hosting Expo 2020 was approximately US$24 billion (AED88.2 billion). 
“But this is just part of the equation; for example it will create more than 277,000 jobs in Dubai between now and 2021. The impact on the tourism industry will be substantial – between October 2020 and April 2021, Expo will attract more than 25 million visitors, 70 percent of which will be from outside the UAE – the largest number of international visitors in Expo history,” he added. 
Lois Hall, Exhibition Manager for the region’s leading meetings show, GIBTM, said Expo 2020 would raise the UAE’s profile to “unprecedented proportions”, supported by a reported US$7 billion worth of tourism-related infrastructure developments pipelined for the destination.
 Hall also highlighted Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s predictions that the event could positively impact the GDP of the UAE by as much as US$23 billion between 2015 and 2021. 
“If you then consider Alpen Capital’s forecasted 67 percent increase in UAE tourism receipts over the next few years, it puts the meetings industry in prime position to capitalise on this historic opportunity,” she added. 


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