Abu Dhabi’s biggest exhibition venues recorded a 30 per cent leap in visitor numbers last year, giving the emirate an economic boost of about Dh3 billion.
Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec), which operates the exhibition centre in the capital and the Al Ain Convention Centre (AACC), welcomed more than 1.5 million visitors at 480 local and international events last year.
The exhibition sector is a key plank in the government’s strategy to increase the role of business tourism, generating significant non-oil-related revenues.
“Our numbers validate the effectiveness of our portfolio expansion into sectors prioritised in the Abu Dhabi Plan 2030 and Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030,” said Humaid Al Dhaheri, Adnec’s group chief executive.
In 2016, Adnec and AACC hosted 43 exhibitions, including 15 new additions – 10 per cent more than a year earlier. The total number of conferences hosted by the venues in 2016 increased by 5 per cent to 22.
Events last year included the Tawdheef recruitment fair for Emiratis, the first Seha Neuroscience Conference and defence exhibition and conference, Idex.
ExCeL London, a wholly owned subsidiary of Adnec, welcomed 2.8 million visitors to 367 events last year compared with 313 events in 2015.
Adnec also won the hosting rights to 12 new international and local conferences.
The World Diabetes Congress – expected to draw about 15,000 participants – will be held at Adnec in December. It is estimated to contribute Dh150 million to the local economy.
“In 2016, Adnec Group contributed to the creation of more than 16,844 job opportunities in the UAE across business tourism sectors,” said Mr Al Dhaheri.
“Furthermore, we supported the occupancy of hotels in the country through delivering a total of 528,639 guest nights – a 27 per cent increase over 2015.”
The Adnec Group owns the Hyatt Capital Gate, Aloft Abu Dhabi and Aloft London ExCeL hotels.
At the end of last year Emiratisation at Adnec reached 60 per cent, up from 55 per cent in 2015 with Emiratis holding 82 per cent of senior management positions.
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