Oman keen on In­dia's slice Of MICE

After see­ing tremen­dous re­sponse from In­dia's leisure mar­ket, Oman is keen to at­tract the MICE busi­ness from here. With fo­cus on in­cen­tives and big-ticket events, the Oman Con­ven­tion Bureau in­tends to ease rule and reg­u­la­tions

Micetalk - - Contents - Hazel Jain

Just over a year old now, close to com­plet­ing two years of ex­is­tence, the Oman Con­ven­tion Bureau is a depart­ment un­der the Min­istry of Tourism, Sul­tanate of Oman that was cre­ated purely to fo­cus on at­tract­ing MICE busi­ness to Oman. It not only looks after de­vel­op­ing MICE op­por­tu­ni­ties in Oman but also im­prov­ing them, eas­ing the rule and reg­u­la­tions as well as fa­cil­i­tate prompt com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the pri­vate sec­tor and the gov­ern­ment.

This in­di­cates Oman's se­ri­ous­ness of de­vel­op­ing and pro­mot­ing it­self to the MICE mar­ket. The bureau is now pre­par­ing to tap the In­dia mar­ket ag­gres­sively. On his first sales visit to In­dia re­cently, Khalid Al Zad­jali, Di­rec­tor, Oman Con­ven­tion Bureau, met key MICE op­er­a­tors and cor­po­rate com­pa­nies in Mum­bai and New Delhi to ex­plore strate­gic part­ner­ships with them. He says, “The idea is to have strate­gic part­ner­ships with a cou­ple of key travel com­pa­nies here in In­dia and dis­cuss how we can work to­gether. The next step is to bring Oman sup­pli­ers to In­dia with a fo­cus on MICE.”

The bureau has made a plan that out­lines the ma­jor source mar­kets and In­dia fig­ures promi­nently in it. “In­dia is one of the ma­jor source mar­kets that we will fo­cus on in the next three to five years. It al­ready fig­ures in the top five in­ter­na­tional mar­kets for us. When we talk about In­dia, we talk about the in­cen­tive mar­ket – it is re­ally strong. The in­cen­tive groups are al­ways look­ing for some­thing unique some­thing new and this is some­thing that Oman can of­fer. Even In­dian wed­dings have be­come pop­u­lar here and the largest group that we have han­dled so far is 1,100 peo­ple,” Zad­jali says.

CON­VEN­TION CEN­TRE

The first phase of the Oman Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre (OCEC) lo­cated op­po­site the air­port opened last year. This in­cluded the ex­hi­bi­tion hall with a to­tal area of 22,000 sqm that can be di­vided in five halls. It also has 10-12 meet­ing rooms around it, which is

In the last five years, Oman has wit­nessed 82 per cent growth in In­dian ar­rivals

al­ready do­ing well. Phase two will be com­pleted by sec­ond quar­ter of 2018 that will in­clude the con­ven­tion hall. This hall will be a dome struc­ture and will be able to seat 3,200 pax in theatre style. “It will have the lat­est AV fa­cil­i­ties. There will be 35-40 meet­ing rooms above that as well. This will take the to­tal num­ber of meet­ing rooms in this cen­tre to 45. At­tached to this will be two ho­tels – JW Mar­riot and Crown Plaza,” Zad­jali adds.

JW Mar­riot will be a five-star prop­erty with 300 rooms, and walk­ing dis­tance from it will be the Crown Plaza Ho­tel which is a four-star prop­erty with 600 keys.

This will be op­er­a­tional by Oc­to­ber 2017. These ho­tels will com­ple­ment the world-class OCEC fa­cil­ity once they get started. In fact, the OCEC has al­ready booked big-ticket events such as the up­com­ing UNWTO event in De­cem­ber 2017. “We have also won two other huge in­ter­na­tional con­gresses. One is the World Can­cer Congress in 2020 that will see about 4,500 to 6,000 at­ten­dees. So in all, this devel­op­ment in­cludes the con­ven­tion cen­tre, two star ho­tels, and two big ball­rooms that will come up in the sec­ond phase. All this is ex­pected to be com­pleted by the first quar­ter of 2018. We ex­pect the ball­rooms to taken up by func­tions and wed­dings, etc,” Zad­jali adds.

IN­CEN­TIVE IS HUGE

Ac­cord­ing to him, In­dia's in­cen­tive mar­ket is strong which is good for Oman since it can of­fer a lot of op­tions. “Why Oman? There are so many rea­sons. It is close to In­dia with just a 2.5 hour flight to Mus­cat. The con­nec­tiv­ity is amaz­ing with roughly around 200 flights per week. Cul­tur­ally, we are very sim­i­lar. More­over, we of­fer value for money when it comes to in­cen­tives. We have so many ac­tiv­i­ties to do that you can ac­tu­ally make a 14-day itin­er­ary with dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties to do ev­ery­day,” he says. Plus, big groups are not a prob­lem for Oman. Zad­jali ex­pects to be ready with a va­ri­ety of op­tions for ho­tel rooms with about 3,000 more rooms com­ing up be­tween 2017 and 2018. There are also other in­fra­struc­ture and tourism projects within the ninth five-year devel­op­ment plan 2016-2020 that the Oman Tourism Strat­egy will re­in­force.

The Oman Con­ven­tion Bureau does of­fer groups in­cen­tive pro­grammes but they are all tai­lor­made with no fixed slabs. So the level of in­cen­tive will de­pend up on the size of the group, their spend­ing power, the itin­er­ary, to­tal bud­get, etc. Zad­jali says, “We also of­fer as­sis­tance from the lo­gis­tics side. First we study the eco­nomic im­pact that the group will make for Oman and then de­cide on a case to case ba­sis. While we can cater to all bud­gets, Oman is truly an ex­pe­ri­ence that we can of­fer to the MICE seg­ment. It has a wow fac­tor with an authentic Ara­bian ex­pe­ri­ence.” Off­beat ac­tiv­i­ties here in­clude dol­phin watch­ing and tur­tle watch­ing.

Khalid Al Zad­jali

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