Makkah set to become a new hub for MICE tourism

Backed by a growing number of modern facilities and government support, Makkah is set to become a new destination for the MICE tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, according to industry experts.

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An aerial view shows the Clock Tower and the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy Muslim city of Mecca on September 13, 2016. More than 1.8 million faithful from around the world have been attending the annual pilgrimage which officially ends on September 15. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

Backed by a growing number of modern facilities and government support, Makkah is set to become a new destination for the MICE tourism industry in Saudi Arabia, according to industry experts.

Traditionally seen as a site for religious travel, Makkah today is attracting a growing number of local companies and government authorities looking to combine their meeting and training requirements with Umrah pilgrimage.

Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar, the first Conrad property opened by Hilton in Saudi Arabia earlier this year, has seen its MICE business grow steadily, driven by demand from pharmaceutical companies and government entities that tend to conduct their board and annual meetings, as well as training and development programs, over weekends in the holy city.

“There are several factors that contribute to the development of MICE tourism in Makkah, one of which is the growing supply of modern venues from new hotels that are opening in the market, equipped with the latest technology,” said Ismail Sirry, general manager of Conrad Makkah Jabal Omar.

“Other factors include the improving infrastructure, companies’ desire to hold their meetings and trainings in nearby locations, and continuous government support.”

Ambitious plans 

Saudi Arabia aims to become the main destination for conferences and exhibitions in the Middle East by 2020. The Kingdom has announced ambitious plans to invest $1.6 billion in its MICE tourism industry for the coming years to 2019, and several centers and venues will benefit from this financial boost.

“Indeed, since our opening in June, we have seen very strong demand from both the public and private sector to utilize our meeting spaces for weekend meetings, as well as training and development initiatives. We expect this trend to continue growing throughout 2017, with more interest coming from energy companies, as well as banks,” Sirry added. More info

Source: Saudi Gazette

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