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July 27, 2015

Middle East: Riding the Chinese Wave

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It’s no secret that meeting and incentive bookings from China are highly prized. Until recently, however, this major emerging source market has remained largely untapped for the UAE

With a number of high-profile business wins now under its belt, however, and a solid strategy to target top buyers, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are scaling the ranks of preferred destinations for Chinese planners. All this is underscored by strong trade links and increasing inbound visitor numbers, which is helping to set the scene for a viable and attractive proposition.

Indeed, the UAE’s successful hosting of 14,500 delegates from China’s Nu Skin Enterprises in April 2014 was a pivotal development, serving to highlight the emirates’ strength in hosting large business groups from the country.
In turn, it raised awareness of the capabilities of the UAE’s tourism industry, especially its airlines, hotels and destination management companies (DMCs), paving the way for future opportunities.

“Incentive groups from China are a very important segment for us and we proactively target a number of agencies and direct selling companies [companies that base their business model on product distribution through a network of independent, commission-based sales representatives] that organise incentive trips to Dubai,” said Steen Jakobsen, Director, Dubai Business Events. “We have already welcomed a number of business events from China over the years but expect to see a marked increase in the years to come.” 

Since the Nu Skin trip, inquiries and bookings for incentive trips from China have increased dramatically. A major upcoming diary date is the 11th Worldwide China Insurance Congress and Dragon Awards Ceremony, which is set to take place in Dubai in August 2015 and will attract more than 5,000 high-level delegates.The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, is targeting a 10 to 20 percent increase in meeting and incentive business from China in 2015 and the destination has a clear idea of the type of bookings it is hoping to attract and how the emirate features in their plans. 

“We expect the average trip to last from five to seven days per group. Budgets will be tight but expectations around requirements and standards will be high,” said Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director, Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau (Abu Dhabi CB), which is organising a FAM tour for Chinese MICE buyers later this year. “Most of the groups will comprise 100 to 500 participants. The larger groups, however, will likely opt for a more affordable luxury MICE destination closer to China.” 

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