Business Tourism Program

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Business Tourism includes attending a wide variety of events such as exhibitions, conferences, meetings, etc, which are of great importance culturally, socially, politically and commercially. 

Many countries have are focussed on developing such activities through strengthening their related elements, including developing exhibition and conference venues, hotels and airports facilities, improving relevant regulations and governmental procedures, and developing the marketing of human resources capacities of the sector.

These type of activities have taken different names, such as, "exhibition and conference market", "meeting industry", business events" and "business tourism" to put them in specific frames to easily deal with the sector elements, and to develop these elements and market them.

Specialized associations are formed for the sector. Its employee strength is growing rapidly, in addition to growing the sector investments by various event organizing companies. It has gradually become an important economic resource as well as an independent and specialized industry presently.

Although this sector witnesses general stability on global level, it is witnessing notable growth in the Middle East, which is attributed to the economic and urban revolution that the region enjoys that contributes to the provision of wide range of fundamental facilities and services of the sector. 

Given the economic importance of the exhibition and conference sector in general, and its importance for tourism in particular, special attention is paid by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and SCTH to develop this sector in the Kingdom.

SCTH in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Interior, the Amaras, Municipalities and the Council of Saudi Chambers have directed their efforts to develop the sector's important elements for it to become more competitive. 

 
Cooperation between SCTH and the Ministry of Commerce with the partners in the exhibition and conference sector is based on the recommendations of the General Strategy for the sustainable National Tourism develoopment in the Kingdom and the plan for the development of exhibitions, conferences, meetings and incentives market in the Kingdom.
 
The resolution of the Saudi Council of Ministers dated 4-10-2010, in this respect reflects the concern of the government towards the restructuring and development of this sector, besides, there is a major shift in the organization of exhibitions and conferences as the resolution approved the formation of the Standing Committee of exhibition and conference. According to the resolution, SCTH and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to jointly conduct a field study to establish "Saudi Authority for Exhibition and Conference" in due time. 

 
Exhibition and Conference Sector Development:

 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a remarkable growth in the exhibition and conference sector, due to economic and urban renaissance occurring, provided facilities, services and infrastructure. Exhibition and conference sector represents an important space in the tourist market, if we exclude the Hajj and Umrah trips and visits to Madinah, the business tourists spending represents more than 20% of the total tourism in the Kingdom. More than 3.2 million tourists attend exhibitions and conferences annually with spending rates exceeding expenditure SR 6.8 billion. In addition, the Kingdom has over 600 facility equipped for exhibitions, conferences, meetings, and more than 500 licensed organizer of exhibitions and conferences. The following table gives some figures for tourism sector showing indirect effects of exhibitions and conferences in the Kingdom:

 

​Tourism type

Trip number

Tourism spent

Remarks

Domestic business tourism trips -

741,000

SR 876 million

-   70% of tourists resided in hotels, furnished apartments

-   61% of tourists travelled by land

Business tourism - Inbound trips

2.5 million

SR 7.7 billion

-   71% of tourist resided in hotels

-   Occupies 3rd place in terms of purpose of the visit to the Kingdom.

Total domestic business tourism trips

3.2 million

SR 8.6 billion

-

Business tourism - Outbound trips

680,000

SR 3.6 billion

-


 
The Standing Committee of Exhibitions and Conferences

 
The Council of Ministers in its session dated 4-10-2010 issued a resolution to form a Standing Committee for exhibition and conference sector under the chairmanship of the Minister of Commerce and Trade and membership of the undersecretaries of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Finance, in addition to the Vice-President of SCTH, Deputy Chief of the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

 
Success Factors of Business Tourism in KSA

 
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest economic powerhouse in the Middle East as the world’s largest oil procedure and it has a very wide geographic area and a population exceeding 27 million. It is also the cradle of the Islam, a center of world attraction, a cherished destination for millions of Muslims from all over the world, besides it is the place of origin of all Arabs.

 
The Government of the Kingdom, in its development plans, constantly seeks to diversify the economic base, as well as explore diversification of economic resources. It is supporting the private sector to reduce reliance on the oil production, from it being a key resource for the national economy. It also seeks to create jobs for a large segment of people, especially the Saudi youth, through enhancing the contribution of the private sector in the national economy, in addition to attracting large international investment.  Kingdom also seeks to strengthen its competitive position in the world and for this it considers sustainable development as a strategic key option.

 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a strong private sector which is capable of engaging heavily in the exhibition and conference sector, in addition to government's consistent tendency to support economic development in general. Hence, when preparing the development strategy of exhibition and conference market, SCTH sheds light on the current status of the sector, explaining a number of strengths and opportunities as follows:

 
Strengths
  • Growing government concern to diversify the economic base..
  • It is a promising sector poised for growth and development.
  • Promising investment possibilities in this sector.
  • Growing private sector targeting exhibition and conferences market.
  • High quality hotels in strategic locations.
  • Experience in hosting large numbers of visitors.

 
Opportunities
  • KSA is the largest Gulf States in terms of population and economic 
  • It has the highest growth of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Gulf region and the Middle East  
  • The largest oil producer on the world scale.
  • Strong infrastructure in communications and transportation internationally and locally.
  • Saudi Arabia is very skilled in specialized sectors such as: oil industries, water treatment, date production, and information and communication technology.
  • Significant growth in academic institutions.
  • Rising prices for tourist services in the Gulf countries.

 
Market development plan for Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE):

 
In the year 1428 H/2007, SCTH in cooperation with the Ministry of trade and industry and the Council of Saudi Chambers, conducted a study, carried out comprehensive study by an international firm, to benefit from the Meeting, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) to develop Saudi economy in general and the tourism industry in particular, titled "Development Plan of Exhibition and Conference Market". The study forecasted the direct expenditure of the visitors of exhibitions and conferences to rise by more than 37% to reach SR 12 billion by the fifth year of the implementation of the Five-Year Plan.
The study also highlighted the ways for developing the product, manpower and the human resource in this sector, , in addition to marketing strategy and definition of partners and the administrative structure to manage this sector. The study has set up a prospective vision to the exhibition and conference sector in the Kingdom as follows:

 
"By the year 1449 H/2028, the exhibition, conference and meeting sector in the Kingdom will be transformed into a fundamental pillar of the State's economy and generate employment opportunities. This sector will also have a prominent role in strengthening the position of the Kingdom abroad and to attract investments in various economic sectors."

 
To implement this vision, a strategic path was developed which will lead to significant change in the exhibition and conference sector. Strategic path is based on the following:
  • Amendments to the regulatory framework and greater flexibility in the procedures.
  • Development of exhibition and conference facilities, and establishment of three major new facilities.
  • Establish strong investment in the sector’s marketing.
  • Granting more flexibility in issuing visas to those interested in participating, or visiting the Kingdom to attend exhibitions, conferences and meetings.
  • Develop procedures for the entry of foreign firms wishing to organize exhibitions and conferences.

 
Contact us:
Business Tourism Development Project
Department of Tourism Product
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH)
Riyadh, KSA
Tel : 0096618808296 / 0096618808909 / 0096618808229
Fax : 0096618808895
Email Address : mice@scth.gov.sa