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February 7, 2014

Middle East: OCEC to boost Oman’s meetings impact

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The opening of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) will significantly boost the meetings sector’s contribution to the sultanate’s inbound tourism figures, an industry report has claimed. 

The meetings sector accounted for eight percent of inbound tourism to Oman in 2011 and is expected to grow to between 12 and 15 percent in 2014 according to a study of the sultanate’s hotel industry conducted by Colliers International in November 2013. 
The development of the OCEC, which is due to be completed in Muscat in 2016, will drive a further hike in the meetings sector’s tourism contribution and help sustain the six to eight percent annual growth rate of Oman’s travel and tourism GDP between now and 2017 as predicted by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). 
Capital investments in the travel and tourism sector amounted to US$945 million (OMR364 million) in 2012 and are expected to grow annually by 8.6 percent on average until 2017, according to the WTTC. 
Rochelle Uechtritz, AEG Ogden Group Manager, Convention Sales Development, who has been generating awareness of the OCEC during its pre-opening phase, said the centre would cater to pent-up demand for congress business in Oman. 
“The Sultanate of Oman has been actively involved with more than 100 international trade and professional associations for decades and has been asked many times to host a wide range of regional and global conventions, but there has been no suitable venue until the development of the OCEC,” she said. 
“With the completion of this stunning world-class venue, we are able to pursue these opportunities with vigour.” 
Uechtritz said AEG Ogden, which manages the OCEC on behalf of its developer, Omran, was “in the process of qualifying more than 3,000 meetings which have the potential to be hosted in Oman”. 
“Naturally our primary focus is on pursuing congresses where Oman has a strong presence and in November and December [2013], we welcomed site visits from several international organisations.” 
AEG Ogden’s Director of Convention Centres, Geoff Donaghy, added: “There are more than 200 convention and exhibition centres competing on the world stage for a slice of the business events pie but research already undertaken has identified international conventions with the potential to be held in Oman as far ahead as 2024.” 
He was speaking after announcing Trevor McCartney as the centre’s inaugural Manager. McCartney, who assumes his role this month (January) was previously Director of Business Development at the successful Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), a role he held since June 2011. 
The centre piece of the OCEC will be the auditorium – a 3,200- seat tiered theatre set over three levels with advanced projection and riggings, orchestra pit and acoustic systems. Additional features include two ballrooms, 14 meeting rooms and five exhibition halls, providing a combined column-free space of more than 22,000 square metres. 

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