New exhibition centre crucial to cater to surge in meetings visitors.
A new Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Centre could be up and running within the next five years, according to the Bahrain Exhibition and Conference Authority (BECA).
The decision to develop the new centre came following an economic impact study on Bahrain's meetings industry, carried out by Roland Berger Consultants, which recommended that a new centre of at least 30,000m², with the option to expand to 60,000m², be built, in order to keep up with the developments in the rest of the region, in particular the GCC.
"The MICE, or international meetings industry, is very important and is paramount to the future growth of Bahrain," said Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, director of MICE, destination marketing & PR, BECA.
"It is estimated that more than 21,000 international exhibitors and delegates will be attending international events held at BIEC in 2008 and more than 27,000 in 2009, which shows a substantial growth of more than double figures from those of 2007. We are also diversifying and working hard on the international association congress market and we are currently working on several congress bids for events in 2009 up to 2012."
BECA's board of directors is currently in discussions with H.E. Dr Hassan A. Fakhro, Bahrain's Minister of Industry & Commerce, to determine a suitable site for the new development, which will comprise a state of the art, multi function, multi purpose venue combined together with five-star hotels, restaurants and retail outlets, she added.
The MICE or meetings industry is paramount.
"As an interim measure to assist with the increased demand for bookings at the current Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre (BIEC), which has a total space of just under 17,000m², is to add a Hall 3 with an additional 3000m² by summer 2008 and look at partitioning for Hall 1 which is currently 8000m² in total," said Stanford-Kristiansen.
"This gives us options for two separate halls of 4000m² each, which would give us the opportunity to hold more concurrent events at the BIEC as is the case in Hall 2 which is 6000m² but can be split into two separate halls of 3000m² each. Both halls are linked together with the convention centre."
BIEC is due to run a full capacity for the next three years, up from 57% in 2006.
"Market demand continues to grow for Bahrain's largest, pillar-free exhibition and meeting venue, emphasising the necessity of the planned expansion to accommodate existing business outgrowing the building and potential new clients," Stanford-Kristiansen concluded.