The future looks bright for the Saudi Arabian MICE market, as the kingdom sets its sights on establishing a firm footing in the business travel sector.
The Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau (SECB) has outlined the organisation’s new regulatory framework for the meetings and events in the country.
In an effort to simplify travel protocols for event exhibitors, speakers and participants, the SECB has introduced a 48-hour online visa issuance procedure and eased restrictions on airport customs channels. With a mandate to further leverage the industry’s potential, the SECB has also implemented a transparent and efficient one-stop platform for the licensing of events.
Saudi Arabia has also become the first country to produce a document defining MICE terminology as well as the basis, rules and procedures for every event. A guide outlining the participation of women was also issued in a bid to promote their involvement in the industry.
Tariq A. Al Essa, Executive Manager, Saudi Exhibition & Convention Bureau, said: “With our new systems in place, we now have the ability to generate and provide up to date information and statistics on every event taking place in the country. Also, efforts are underway to establish a system that enables us to better understand visitor behaviour at these events.”
Showing the continued ascent of the MICE segment in Saudi, Al Essa revealed that licences were issued for 8,750 business events in the country since January 2016, with the medical sector dominating the top spot, followed by education, and IT & communication. Q1 2017 also saw a nine percent increase in events, in comparison to the same period last year.
Looking ahead, also on the SECB’s agenda is the development of human competency programmes for the industry. An investment worth SAR10 million was made towards establishing the Saudi Event Management Academy, which welcomed its first batch of students in December 2016.
Al Essa also revealed plans to build an inventory of venues for events, establish a system to better understand visitor behaviour at events as well as create a forum to connect suppliers to discuss improvements within the industry.