BITE is a commitment to Bahrain: Wafa
Manama, May 13, 2009
Undaunted by the crisis caused by the global recession in the travel industry, Bahrain International Travel Expo (BITE) is all set for the opening of its fifth edition tomorrow (May 14).
BITE 2009, scheduled to be held till May 16 at the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre, will meet the challenges posed by the downturn and will again come out successful, say organisers Magnum Events and Exhibitions Management (MEEM).
MEEM, which initially expected the number of exhibitors to come down due to the downturn, is pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming response to the show.
“BITE is a commitment we have made to Bahrain and HH Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who has provided the show a great support. We will continue the commitment despite the challenges,” said Jamil Wafa, founder and group chairman of Magnum Holdings, the parent company of MEEM in an exclusive interview with TradeArabia.
Forty countries are participating in the show this year either as exhibitors or hosted buyers, while about 104 exhibitors will occupy around 7,500 sq m to showcase their products and services to the discerning visitors at the B2C exhibition.
“Several leading regional and international companies are participating in a big way and there is no compromise on the quality of the show,” adds Wafa, a 77 year-old veteran of the region’s hospitality industry. Excerpts from the interview:
BITE has seen tremendous growth during the past few years. How does it look this year?
During the past four years, the growth has been beyond our expectations. The support we have received from HH Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and various public and private organisations, has transformed BITE into an internationally recognised B2C event.
Considering the severity of the downturn, we are satisfied with the interest and the participation of exhibitors in this year's show.
What is the focus of BITE 2009? How do you see the interest for the show within the travel and tourism sector?
As in the previous years, our motto continues to be “Bringing the World to Bahrain”. The show has caught the imagination of stake-holders in the industry and consumers. Countries and companies from across the globe are taking part and coming up with special packages for the expo. I can assure everyone that it will be a quality show.
Over the years, we have seen an increased number of companies taking more space. This year many leading airlines and travel agencies have expanded their presence.They feel BITE gives them a platform to promote their services.
Bahrain’s Labour Fund (Tamkeen), along with its associates, is participating in the show to highlight its support to the sector. It will also focus on career opportunities in the industry. A 35-member high profile delegation from Egypt led by Tourism Minister Zuhai Garana will be participating at BITE to promote the country’s deep rooted history and heritage.
What is the impact of the global recession on the show?
I must admit that this is a very challenging year because of the global financial situation and travel and tourism is one of the worst affected sectors. For us, BITE is not purely a commercial venture and our outlook is long term. As our motto clearly states, our aim is to showcase Bahrain to the international audience and we stay committed to this goal. Not everything that we create is for money.
What is the level of participation in the MICE hosted buyers programme this year?
BITE is the first show in the region to have introduced MICE hosted buyers’ programme. We have brought industry players from all parts of the globe to Bahrain so they can understand our culture, tradition, see the sights and sounds and go back home and spread a good word about the kingdom. This year, we are hosting more than 50 high profile quality MICE buyers, corporate event man