Gulf carriers spur longhaul MICE with new links, cheaper fares


LONGHAUL MICE buyers are witnessing a surge in demand for Asia as air travel into the region becomes cheaper and more accessible thanks to the ambitious expansion of Middle Eastern airlines across the world.

Magdy Ibrahim, managing director of Smart Solutions, Dubai, said: “We are increasing our focus on Asia as it is getting so much more accessible and cheaper.”

While 40 per cent of his corporate groups are already heading to Asia this year, with the remaining opting for Europe, Ibrahim predicts Asia’s share to grow to 50 per cent next year.

“The new Middle Eastern flights into Asia help to encourage healthy competition between the carriers, which is great news for us as Asia becomes cheaper with all the airline promotions,” Ibrahim added.

Sharing similar sentiments, Bulgaria-based Hermes Holidays’ principal Violeta Rousseva said the airfares into Asia have especially become more affordable since the entry of the Gulf carriers.

Pointing to Thailand and Indonesia as his top-selling destinations in Asia, he said: “It becomes easier to sell these countries and furthermore it is not expensive to host luxury dinners and incentives in these destinations so the whole package (flight, hotel and activities) becomes really attractive.”

Katarzyna Mazur, junior project manager of Nu Horizons Poland, views Asia as a fresh destination. “We see growing demand from clients to host incentives and meetings in places like the Philippines and Malaysia.”

According to her, the cost of flying from Poland to Bangkok today is some 30 per cent lesser than four years ago with the presence of carriers like Emirates.

Monika Valleton, managing director of ATJ Lingwista in Poland, added that the lure of history and culture in countries like Thailand and Cambodia makes Asia a “dream destination” for her clients.

Apart from the Middle Eastern carriers’ connections, she had also chartered a plane for a company to Phuket earlier this year.

Valleton said: “There is a general growth in interest and excitement from our clients into this part of the world (Asia). It is very positive.”

Smart Solutions’ Ibrahim commented that the ease of visa regulations in countries like Indonesia has also boosted the interest. He said: “One of Asia’s added advantage is the (people’s) warm hospitality which makes it very welcoming for our delegates’ overall experience.”

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