It’s the unfortunate fill-in-the-blank statement for too many convention centers and CVBs: _________ had their funding cut. As cities and states in the US work to balance their budgets, the convention industry can be one of the first financial victims. Across the country, there are quite a few examples of lawmakers who fail to understand the true value of meetings and conventions.
However, there are some global destinations where the government is giving the meetings industry a big push forward. In the Sultanate of Oman, leaders are laying the blueprints for the country’s future with Vision 2040, a strategic approach to long-term success that relies on building an ideal environment for business events.
“The government recognizes that they won’t have oil forever, so they’re being very smart about diversifying their economy,” Michelle Crowley, Director, Global Development, PCMA, says. “They know meetings and business travel represent a huge opportunity for job creation.”
It’s clear that the soon-to-be-opened Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre will be one of the key drivers for fueling employment. A recent study shows the OCEC will create more than 24,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Bringing The Right Team Members Together
Trevor McCartney, General Manager, Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre, is currently working to recruit the right staff members at the OCEC, and he expects to have more than 170 full-time employees by the end of the year. As McCartney continues his efforts, government officials are also working to put another piece in place to help meeting professionals who need assistance identifying the right partners in the country: a convention bureau.
“The Ministry of Tourism will be championing the establishment of an Oman Convention Bureau in an effort to further support and reinforce the promotion of Oman as an emerging business events destination and to attract business,” McCartney says. “The Oman Convention Bureau will develop an ambassador program, leveraging Oman’s wealth of passionate and enthusiastic experts who are established and respected leaders in their respective fields.”
That ambassador program can play a crucial role for meeting professionals who are new to the Arabian Gulf. From connecting organizations with Omani sister organizations to identifying the right speakers for a conference, Oman’s efforts to leverage its local intellectual capital will play a pivotal role in accelerating the country’s position as a premier convention destination. It’s already off to a great start, too. The International Congress and Convention Association ranked Oman in its top 100 countries for meetings and conventions for the first time this year — before the OCEC has even officially opened its doors.
Increasing Airport Arrival Capacity
The country’s position on the ICCA list is poised to rise thanks to another piece of Vision 2040: a major airport expansion in Muscat, the capital city and home of the OCEC.
As meeting professionals compare prospective host destinations, they all need to know if the airlift can accommodate attendees from around the world. In Oman, the government is making sure the answer will be a resounding “yes” when more groups begin filling the OCEC. The first installment of a multi-phase expansion plan for the Muscat International Airport is scheduled to increase the airport’s annual capacity to 12 million passengers. When the plan is fully completed, the city will be able to accommodate up to 48 million passengers each year.
Investing In Attendee Accommodations
Once attendees arrive in Muscat, they’ll be able to choose from a wide range of upscale and luxury hotels. The Ministry of Tourism recently announced plans to develop a number of new properties including a Westin, St. Regis and W, along with the Ritz Carlton-Muscat Reserve. As the government continues to work to increase its room supply, other hoteliers are taking notice, too.
“Oman offers a unique product in the [Gulf Cooperation Council)] in terms of climate, charm and opportunity,” Elie Milky, Director of Business Development for Middle East/Africa at The Rezidor Hotel Group, told Hotel News Now in 2013. “Its diverse landscape, pristine beaches, government initiatives and potential for growth have attracted interest from near and far and from different sectors of the industry. There is much potential for growth in Oman, and we are keen to be part of it.”
Hoteliers aren’t the only ones excited about the growth opportunities in Oman. Meeting professionals are hoping to connect with attendees in the Arabian Gulf, too. Click here to check out perspectives from North American and European meetings industry leaders at the inaugural PCMA Oman Advisory Summit.
This educational article was brought to you by Oman and the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre. As the facility prepares to officially open its doors in 2016, more meeting professionals are adding Oman to their list of site visits. Click here to check out a preview video of the Centre and go here to get in touch with the team at the OCEC to learn more about what Oman can do for your attendee experience.