Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Saudi Arabia: Growth in ‘Meeting and Conference’ Industry | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Eng. Tariq Al Essa, executive director, Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau

Jeddah- The Saudi Exhibition and Conventions Bureau (SECB), affiliated to Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH), has announced that visitors of licensed activities exceeded 4.4 million in 2016.

SECB, also, adopted Trade Fairs Plan for 2017 that aims to reach a total of 86 trade exhibitions.

Eng. Tariq Al-Essa, Executive Manager of SECB, said “Conference industry is considered a dynamic industry that is linked to all economic sectors and has direct and indirect economic impacts, as well as social, cultural and political ones.”

He added: “The number of licensed activities, including exhibitions, forums, conferences, workshops and meetings held in 2016 in the kingdom, reached 8,758 — this represents a growth of 12% compared to 2015. Riyadh, Mecca, and Eastern Province hosted 48%, 31% and 18% of these activities, respectively”

“Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) and Saudi Exhibition and Conventions Bureau (SECB) are in a quest to enhance Saudi’s rank in the field of conference industry,” stated Essa.

According to IKEA’s annual report, Saudi Arabia’s improved in this domain in 2016 as it ranked 91 instead of 112 in 2015.

Furthermore, Trade Fairs Plan for 2017 has been adopted. It includes 86 trade fairs compared to 57 in 2016. Consequently, the meeting and conference industry is expected to grow up to 20% in 2017.

Tourist visits for the purpose of attending exhibitions and conferences represents more than 15% of total tourism in the kingdom, declared Essa, stressing the connection among conferences industry, tourism, travel agencies and other tourist professions.

He added that tourists who are willing to attend exhibitions and conferences have high purchase power – Conferences and exhibitions increase demand on services and tourist products and this, subsequently, provides job opportunities and enriches the tourists’ experience.