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 USD1.6 billion in its MICE tourism industry for the coming years to 2019, and several centres and venues will benefit from this financial boost. 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.”