Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Centre (Adnec) plans to bid for 17 international conferences this year as it looks to step up the events industry’s contribution to the economy.
This year, Adnec and Al Ain Convention Centre will host 339 exhibitions, conferences and other events – up from 327 last year, an increase of 3.6 per cent.
“We will focus on attracting more conferences and continue the growth of exhibitions to drive further the economic impact,” said Humaid Al Dhaheri, Adnec’s acting group chief executive.
“Business tourists spend seven times more than leisure travellers. Around 60 per cent of the region’s events business is based in the UAE, an indicator of the vital role we play in the region.”
Last year Adnec and Al Ain Convention Centre together attracted 1.6 million visitors, who in total contributed Dh2.56 billion to the economy through spending on items such as retail and hotel stays. That was up from 1.56 million visitors who contributed Dh2.3bn in 2013.
Apart from hosting events, Adnec organises the International Defence Exhibition and Conference (Idex), which starts on February 22.
The other annual events at Adnec include the World Future Energy Summit, which was held last month, the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition in September and its flagship event – the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference – in November. In 2019, Adnec will host the World Energy Congress, the premier global forum for leaders and thinkers to debate solutions to energy issues, and the World Road Congress.
Meanwhile, Mubarak Al Shamsi, the director of Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau, said that he was looking at India, Asia and Europe as its most important markets. “We are getting a lot of conferences and events from the health sector,” he said yesterday on the sidelines of the meetings, events and incentives industry fair, IBTM Arabia.
The bureau was set up in 2013 to attract conventions, meetings, congresses and events to the capital.
It has 10 overseas offices, including in the US, the UK, Russia, China and Europe. This year it expects to expand into Africa. Mr Al Shamsi, however, did not provide details.
Competitive room rates in Abu Dhabi compared to Dubai are also helping the emirate attract more business events.
In December, the average room rate in Abu Dhabi was US$170.37, compared to $375.11 in Dubai, according to Hotstats compiled by TRI Consulting. The occupancy rate in the capital was also higher at 83.1 per cent versus 82.2 per cent in Dubai.
There are about 2,000 rooms across the Adnec premises from five hotels, ranging from the budget Premier Inn to the luxury Hyatt Capital Gate.
“When we travel overseas, we find that the venue is far away from the city, we are trying to build a micro city near our venue,” Mr Al Dhaheri said.
Adnec is the master developer of Capital Centre that includes 23 commercial and residential towers. While the development slowed down during the global economic crisis, some of the towers have since opened. It now houses three hotels and two government ministries.
Adnec also owns ExCeL London, which it acquired in 2008 for Dh2.3bn.
Follow The National's Business section on Twitter