The second annual Gulf Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings
Exhibition, organized by Reed Travel Exhibitions, took place last
week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, at the Abu Dhabi National
Exhibitions Center. While final numbers have not been released yet,
Paul Kennedy, group exhibitions director for RTE, estimated that
250 exhibitors, 220 hosted buyers and more than 1,000 visitors
attended the show. Exhibitors at GIBTM included local destinations,
like the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah; regional
destinations, including Oman and Egypt; international destinations
such as Ireland and the Czech Republic; and regional and
international hotel groups, including Rotana, Jumeirah, Starwood
and IHG. The third GIBTM will take place March 24-26, 2009, in the
same facility. Meeting Professionals International, which held its
first Gulf Meetings and Events Conference just before this year's
GIBTM, plans a second conference for the same time next year.
Mexico City will establish an office of congresses and
conventions, according to Alejandro Rojas Diaz Duran, the city's
secretary of tourism. Rojas made the announcement Monday during a
press conference at Tianguis Turistico, Mexico's annual tourism
convention. An 8 to 10 percent growth in convention business is
expected for the city this year, and Rojas hopes that number will
increase significantly over the course of the next few years. The
announcement coincides with the Mexico Tourism Board's recent
marketing agreement with the Professional Convention Management
Association to promote Mexico as a meetings and events destination.
"There is a tremendous opportunity to bring North American business
to Mexico," said Deborah Sexton, PCMA's president and CEO, during a
panel discussion at Tianguis Turistico, "especially to combine it
with the tourism appeal already here."
American Express Business Travel released its 2007 Business
Travel Monitor data yesterday, an analysis of North America-based
domestic and international air, hotel and car rental rates for
2007. Among results: The average domestic hotel rate increased last
year to $157 from $141 in 2006, while the average international
hotel rate for the year jumped $36 in the same period, to $266.
International airfares rose from $1,707 in 2006 to $1,836 in 2007,
while domestic fares were flat, rising by just $1 year-over-year,
to an average of $231. The average daily cost for domestic car
rentals rose 4.4 percent to $72.
Owners of the 215-room Longboat Key Cub and Resort near
Sarasota, Fla., announced plans last week for a $500 million
renovation and expansion beginning in 2009, hoping to transform the
hotel into a five-star resort. A total of 222 hotel rooms will be
added along with 261 condo units; the Islandside Golf Course will
be redesigned by Rees Jones and supplemented with an
8,600-square-foot clubhouse; and a 28,000-square-foot meeting
center, a 28,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, and two new
restaurants are planned, as well. Completion of the four-phase
project is slated for 2014.
The Convention Industry Council, a watchdog group overseeing the
meetings industry, has added two new member organizations. Joining
associations such as Meeting Professional International, the
Professional Convention Management Association and the American
Society of Association Executives are the Green Meetings Industry
Council and the International Association of Professional Congress
Organizers. CIC now comprises 33 member organizations.
JetBlue Airways is expanding its CompanyBlue Meetings Program,
which was launched in March of last year, to include travel
discounts conventions and association meetings. Attendees to such
events now will be able to enter a code when booking their travel
at www.jetblue.com/promo to receive the negotiated
discount on their fare.
A Zurich landmark, the Dolder Grand, has reopened following a
four-year, $400 million restoration by London architects Foster and
Partners. The 173-room property now has eight meeting rooms and a
ballroom, two restaurants and a 40,000-square-foot spa with 19