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Mice Net : June 2009
news events were going ahead albeit with a lower profile. He said where a party may have been held at an exclusive off-site venue they were now more likely to be held in a pub. Ros McLeod said in terms of the association market, money was being spent on the conference program rather than the social activities, however, there remained a strong emphasis on the networking aspects of the conference. With her IAPCO (International Association of Professional Congress Organisers) hat on, Ms McLeod said this organisation currently has an unprecedented demand for training courses, particularly in Asia. Leigh Harry said he saw the U.S. government’s attitude to the meetings and events sector very different to that of the Australian government because the majority of conference centres in Australia are owned by state governments. Geoff Donaghy said in recent years there had been an explosion of capacity of new conference venues around the world, however, those where construction hadn’t begun were currently on hold. Mr Stuart told conference participants the current hot spot in terms of the meetings business was the Middle East. Business tourism/MICE manager at the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority Gillian Taylor reports the destination now has 12,000 accommodation rooms, and a raft of new events including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November 2009. General manager of the Qatar National Convention Centre, Paul D’Arcy, said membership of professional bodies was growing in the Middle East, and he expects more meetings to be held in this region in the future. After a visit to The Special Event exhibition in the U.S. in early 2009 special event practitioner Glen Lehman of Lehman & Associates said he has found that budgets are the same, however “we just have to be less opulent.” President and CEO of the U.S. based Destination Marketing Association International, Michael Gehrisch, said the corporate travel business had pretty much stopped since September 15, 2008. He added that consumer confidence was so low that general travellers had also stopped travelling. Asia Pacific manager of UfI, the global association of the exhibition industry, Paul Woodward, said a recent survey of members found that exhibitions were down 10 per cent in Asia, and 60 per cent of survey respondents believed business would be down by 10 per cent in the second half of 2009. Mr Woodward said the majority of survey respondents expected a bounce back by the middle of 2010. Turning Point Solutions’ Peter Pecotic said he expected China to slingshot out of the current global crisis. World Expo 2010 – already tipped as being the largest ever – will be one of the catalysts for China’s next phase of growth. Night of nights As is the tradition at MEA conferences, the final night was set aside for the annual awards ceremony and dinner, which was this year ably overseen by Staging Rentals & Construction Services’ Meri Took. following the announcement of winners (see page 12) the party got off with a real bang that took the majority of guests by surprise. Next year’s MEA National Conference will be held in Melbourne from April 17 to 20, 2010. mice.net 11