Many U.S. cities build conference spaces in what become failed bids to lure events, but Dubai has the rooms, the air connections, and the mojo once again that building more space makes sense.
The general manager of one of Dubai’s largest hotel complexes has expressed concern that the emirate will “desperately need convention space” in the near future.
Yannis Anagnostakis, area GM at InterContinental Hotels Group Dubai Festival City properties, said he believed Dubai World Trade Centre was operating close to capacity.
“Meeting space, conference space is desperately needed in Dubai,” asserted Anagnostakis.
“I believe that the Dubai World Trade Centre is performing at near its capacity,” he said.
“It’s incredible and since the exhibition centre is very well known and established with these exhibitions, it possibly will not be able to cater to city wide conventions because of conflicts in dates. By now there is a calendar in Dubai that we all follow,” explained Anagnostakis.
“The Dubai World Trade Centre management has done extremely well in the past year in turning the space around and using it for different occasions. Compliments to them, they’ve obviously done extremely well, but essentially we will reach the stage where there won’t be enough convention or conference or exhibition space in Dubai,” he said.
To cater to demand for events space in Festival City, InterContinental has added 410m² extra waterfront meetings and events space to its Event Centre, which already comprises 3800m² of meeting rooms, pre-function space and ballrooms.
An additional 115m² of meetings space is also planned for its neighbouring hotel, Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City, later in 2013, while Al Badia Golf Club — also part of the complex managed by Anagnostakis —has 16,900m² of indoor and outdoor function areas, including an outdoor arena spanning 12,400m².
“We’ve first occupied the [new] space with paying customers and then inaugurated it, there’s such a high demand,” said Anagnostakis.
“In our strategy we want to accommodate smaller groups as well. Al Badia is the best location for high level board meetings —guests overnight at the InterContinental and then they meet in Al Badia because that’s a chance for an escape as well,” he added.
Anagnostakis said he “welcomed” the addition to Dubai of the recently opened JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, which features 5100m² events space.
“That will help the destination predominantly,” he said.
However, he added that what was really needed was standalone convention space to help manage the increasing number of events looking to come to the emirate.
“I think that there will be a time where Dubai will desperately need convention space, not necessarily attached to a hotel,” observed Anagnostakis. “And as Emirates Airline continues to grow unlocking new destinations this need will become more apparent,” he concluded.
Dubai World Trade Centre contributed AED 6.5bn towards Dubai’s economy in 2011, equivalent to 2.1% of Dubai’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product), according to an Economic Impact Assessment report prepared by Oxford Economics.
Regional and local trade from sales made during or as a direct result of events held at DWTC was estimated at a further ‘37-times’ the value of the MICE sector contribution, creating far-reaching economic benefits for the MEA region.
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