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EIBTM 2014 ends year on a high


EIBTM closed last Thursday with over 15,500 (8% increase on 2013) industry professionals onsite for the three days of the show. With over 80% of attendees (excluding exhibitors) coming from Europe, the trend underlines the American Express Meetings&Events 2015 Global Forecast presented to over 200 global industry thought leaders on the eve of the first day of the event. The report indicated that the number of meetings in Europe is predicted to increase.

At the same time, trade visitor numbers are also up by nearly 8%. EIBTM attracted nearly 70% of trade visitors from Spain supporting the country’s positive economic recovery which was highlighted in the same report. Some 78,436 pre-scheduled appointments and, for the first time, self-select were made between Hosted Buyers and exhibitors, a 20% increase over last year.

Association planners are also forecasting an increase in their meetings activity, and this year’s show has seen the highest number of independent Association planners attending with 67% of the 271 planners coming from individual associations and societies, overall the event saw an increase of 12% in attendance by Association Hosted Buyers helped by the launch of a more flexible approach to this year’s Buyer programme, with the introduction of My Association | My Club.

Jim Hensley, CEO, Global DMC Partners: “EIBTM is the strongest and busiest show in our trade show calendar. We´ve had more appointments each day here than we have had in entire trade shows. The buyers we have seen have been good quality and most importantly ready to do business with proposals in place, rather than general enquiries. We are very optimistic about the future business we will place thanks to EIBTM.”

Finally from the close of this year’s show, EIBTM is to be rebranded as ibtm world – where connections mean everything. Ibtm world will join its sister events ibtm arabia, ibtm africa, ibtm america, ibtm china and ibtm india under the ibtm events umbrella along with AIME in Melbourne and the recently announced ICOMEX in Mexico.


SUBIOS is no longer relevant to Seychelles


It was during the official closing ceremony of SUBIOS, the Seychelles Festival of the Sea 2014 at Beau Vallon, it was announced that it will be tweaked and relaunched as Seychelles’ Ocean Festival to mark its 25th anniversary in 2015 to make it more relevant for the concept of the blue economy and remain relevant for a key Seychelles niche market.

Minister St.Ange said that the Seychelles’ Ocean Festival will make the perfect marriage between tourism and the blue economy concept. The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board said Sub-Indian Ocean Seychelles SUBIOS original meaning and purpose have been lost, and the time is right to make it more relevant to Seychelles’ niche marketing.

“On a marketing point of view, SUBIOS is no longer relevant to Seychelles’ niche marketing. It is with this in mind that we have come up with a new formula and name to give a new direction to the event. In 2015, Seychelles Ocean Festival will merge with an international festival of the sea which we are still finalizing.”

2015 Seychelles’ Ocean Festival will bring back the underwater film and image festival. It will showcase interesting synergies between Seychelles and the niche international festival, and it will look at many more water-based activities.

Creative tourism reinvigorating the global travel agencies market


Travel agencies are intermediary privately or publicly held organizations that extend travel and tourism-related services, acting as a front for tour operators and suppliers such as hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and tour package providers. Reportstack has announced a new market research report on Global Travel Agencies Market 2015-2019. Reduction in travel costs have boosted the Global Travel Agencies Market, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.60 percent from 2015-2019.

While travel agencies have seen strong competition from travel planning websites in recent years, the deals and packages accessible through agencies have remained one of the main market growth drivers in this industry.  This kind of tourism primarily targets travelers with specific, themed interests such as architectural history, adventure tourism, photography, art, food and other cultural elements. This theme-based tourism is rapidly gaining popularity among travelers, and agencies are attempting to produce innovative package deals.

The adoption of technology has made the market landscape more competitive, thus resulting in staunch competitors forming alliances and partnerships to secure strategic benefits and maintain market share. Acquisitions of smaller firms by large powerhouses will gradually make the market less competitive over the projected period.

Medical Tourists Flock to Thailand

Bumrungrad Hospital

Come for the gold-spired temples and sun-kissed beaches; stay for the low-cost, U.S.-accredited medical services. Or vice versa. That’s the Land of Smiles today, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its December issue. Foreigners seeking treatment for everything from open-heart surgery to gender reassignment have made Thailand the world’s No. 1 destination for so-called medical tourism, luring as many as 1.8 million overseas visitors in 2013, according to Patients Beyond Borders, a consulting firm based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Last year, medical tourists pumped as much as $4.7 billion into the Thai economy, according to government statistics. “While the U.S. is still first choice for the ultrarich, Thailand is unquestionably No. 1 among everyone seeking affordable care,” Patients Beyond Borders founder Josef Woodman says.These strengths have earned Thailand considerable goodwill among investors, who have proved willing to stick with it even through months of political and social trauma.

Medical tourism is doing its part. A gauge of 15 Thai hospital stocks, boosted by medical tourism, leapt 54 percent in 2014 as of Nov. 18. Among the prime beneficiaries of these soaring valuations are three of Thailand’s billionaire dynasties. Last year, Bumrungrad attracted 250,000 medical tourists, including 20,000 Americans and 8,000 Australians.

Bird Flu Virus Spreads to Europe


Since it hit a turkey farm in Germany two weeks ago, the highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza virus has been found at two further farms in Europe. Over last weekend, a farm near Utrecht in the Netherlands was affected. More than 1,000 birds of a flock of 150,000 layer and breeding hens died. The same day, a flock of 6,000 duck breeders in east Yorkshire in the UK was hit by the disease with 338 birds dying of the infection.

All the birds on the affected farms have been destroyed and thorough cleaning and disinfection are being carried out. Control measures are in place in the areas surrounding the affected farms to control the spread of the infection.

This is welcome news, of course, but the control measures are challenging for local poultry producers caught in the control zones. All poultry are to be kept inside, which causes problems for the farmers in terms of manure disposal and increases the risk of feather pecking. Movement controls mean that eggs and meat birds are not being collected.

Furthermore, Ukraine has already announced a ban on the import of live poultry and poultry products from Germany, the Netherlands or the UK.

Food safety organisations have been at pains to stress that the risk of the virus being transmitted to people in poultry products is minimal. Those who work with the birds are unlikely to become infected either as so far, no cases of H5N8 flu have been reported in people.


Amazon to launch Amazon Travel


Amazon is reportedly the latest e-commerce giant planning to break into the online travel business. Reportedly the Amazon booking service will be launched January 1. To begin with, it will feature a curated list of properties ‘within a few hours drive’ of San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles.

Amazon will take an industry standard 15% commission on bookings through Amazon Travel, and editorial content of local attractions will be displayed alongside featured hotels on its website. The report says Amazon has selected potential hotel partners based on ratings of at least four stars and above on TripAdvisor and would limit the number of properties it features per destination.

It suggests Amazon will focus on independent hotels that do not have the online presence of major hotel groups. It is likely to be an attraction for hotels due to its mega-marketing power, global reach and big data capabilities. Amazon gets about 65 million visitors every month to its US website.

Pacific World expands presence to Sri Lanka and the Maldives

Pacific World

Pacific World, the integrated global DMC and Event Management organisation announced their expansion into a further two emerging MICE destinations including Sri Lanka and the Maldives. The strategic development plans will enhance the global footprint and value proposition of the company.

Pacific World’s operating in these additional countries has been made possible through the extensive destination network provided by Pacific World’s parent company, TUI Travel PLC. In all 2 destinations, the leading global DMC for the meetings and events industry will be directed by existing TUI joint ventures, which are full-service DMC’s with extensive MICE experience.

The common ownership and management structure will allow for seamless alignment and consistency in all processes, ensuring that Pacific World will be able to successfully deliver exceptional quality and service levels from the on set, in each of the two destination.

Pacific World has partnered with Aitken Spence Travel to open Pacific World Sri Lanka and Pacific World Maldives. Part of one of the longest established conglomerates in Sri Lanka and with long established relationships with local suppliers, Aitken Spence Travel is the perfect partner to launch Pacific World in the region. A dedicated and experienced MICE team will provide meetings & incentives ideas encapsulating the best that the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” has to offer. Aitken Spence Travel subsidiary, ACE Travel Maldives will operate Pacific World Maldives, and guarantee Pacific World service levels in the Maldives.

Harsha Krishnan, Strategic Development Director of Pacific World commented, “We believe that this is one more step in our journey to create a “one-stop-shop” global value proposition for all our clients worldwide.”

Gili Lankanfushi resort in Maldives

Gili Lankafushi

In an increasingly crowded and polluted world, luxury is defined by sheer tranquility and privacy, both of which are in abundance in Gili Lankanfushi. Formerly the Six Senses Resort, Gili Lankanfushi is an exclusive getaway located on a private reserve in the Maldives, comprised of 45 very private villas, with both luxury and environmental friendliness as top priorities.

A 20-minute speedboat ride from Male airport transports you to a different world.  The main activities here involve snorkelling or diving to better view the parallel universe that exists beneath the waves, but bicycling, canoeing, a weekly cocktail party held on the beach, working out in the gym and indulgent spa treatments are other options to keep guests busy.

Spa treatments alone can take all day. Some run up to 90 minutes, and that’s not including time spent in the relaxation area sipping detoxifying tea and listening to soothing music. Villas are splendidly large, some are over 200 square metres–and are constructed to make the most of outdoor living. There are waterside decks with sun-beds and hammocks overlooking the lagoon, and there’s an upstairs sundeck on each villa that’s perfect for gazing at the blast of stars that appear each night.


New chapter in the development of Soneva


A Chinese private equity company called Sailing Capital has concluded an agreement to become a “significant investor” in Soneva, in a move intended to support the expansion of the company’s portfolio in the Maldives. This deal represents the largest Chinese private investment in the Maldives to date.

“The investment by Sailing Capital marks a new chapter in the development of Soneva,” said Sonu Shivdasani, chairman & CEO of Soneva. “Soneva pioneered luxury hospitality in the region almost 20 years ago and our brand is now synonymous with the Maldives. “We have exciting plans to develop new resorts in the area, and the scale of this investment demonstrates our confidence in thefuture of the Maldivian economy. Our relationship with Sailing Capital will allow us to accelerate these plans for growth’ he said.

“The Maldives is one of the most beautiful places in the world and it has become a significant destination for Chinese tourists and investors,” he said. “These issues are of increasing importance to the Chinese government and our people. We are committed to strengthening and expanding Soneva’s presence in the Maldives and beyond” said James Liu, president & CEO of Sailing Capital. Since its split from Six Senses, Soneva now operates just two resorts, including the luxury Soneva Fushi in the Maldives.

“Meet in Sri Lanka”

Sri Lanka Tourists

The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and SriLankan Airlines in coordination with the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Dubai organized a Road Show “Meet in Sri Lanka” at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Dubai to promote the country as a Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) destination. More than 80 tour operators in UAE attended the promotion event.

Sri Lanka is now being promoted abroad as one of the major attractive travel destinations for foreign visitors. In 2013, more than one million tourists visited Sri Lanka. In 2014, it is anticipated that the target figure will reach 1.5 million by December and it will grow to 2.5 million in 2016. Around 15% of foreigners visit Sri Lanka as a MICE destination.

Sri Lanka is a hub in airline traffic with many airlines operating to Sri Lanka. When compared to other competing destinations, foreigners prefer visiting Sri Lanka, as the destination is regarded as good for value for money, in addition to the ease of obtaining entry visa online.

Sri Lanka offers all modern facilities to host Conferences, Exhibitions and Events with state of the art conference and exhibition centers. Moreover, Sri Lanka is a unique destination which offers diversity of attractions from beaches, mountains, wild life to ancient cities.

M.M. Abdul Raheem, Consul General of Sri Lanka in Dubai inaugurated the event and speaking on the occasion, remarked that Sri Lanka is now the safest destination for MICE tourism. He invited all UAE tour operators to work with the Sri Lanka Consulate General in Dubai, the Sri Lanka Convention Bureau and SriLankan Airlines, which would facilitate the requirements of corporate sectors and individual clients.

Being a financial and trading hub, many multinational companies are housed in Dubai and it would be quite cost effective for these companies to organize Meetings and Conferences in Sri Lanka, as Colombo is only four hours flight time from Dubai.