They feel that this would have an adverse impact on the number of visitors to the country, especially as the government sees the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector as one of Qatar’s strong points. Event management is also seen as a sunrise industry as the government seeks to move away from hydrocarbons as the major source of revenues.
An Arabic daily has reported that event managers are seeking government intervention on the issue and for issuance of licences to be sped up. Al Maraya Public Relations CEO Jaber Al Mansouri felt rentals for the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) were too high, especially when compared to the fees charged by the Doha Exhibition Centre, which is backed by the Qatar Tourism Authority.
QNCC charges QR 17 per sq. metre during the course of an exhibition and QR 8 when preparations for the event are on. Rates at the Doha Exhibition Centre are QR 10 per sq. metre and there is no charge for the days in the run-up to the event.
Extra costs and penalties
Qatar Expo Event Management CEO Hadi Al Zain said QNCC’s rents were abnormally high and event firms had to shell out extra for advertising, regulation and processing, which further added to the cost burden. The situation was so bad that organisers had to cancel events because of QNCC’s high rates.
To put it in perspective, he said; “Qatar Expo spent QR 1.4 mn for an exhibition at QNCC while it spent QR 650,000 at the Doha Exhibition Centre for the same event, with all services being the same.” To make matters worse, QNCC charged Al Zain’s firm QR 250,000 for cancelling an exhibition this year, which he said was a harsh penalty.
Al Mansouri said some venues charge for facilities like power, security and cleaning while others provide these services free of charge. He said: “Exhibitions should be supported by the government because they play an important role in supporting and stimulating the development of the tourism industry.”
According to Ibhar Enterprises and Exhibitions CEO Mayser Sadiq, there is a dire need for venue rentals to come down in order to allow Qatar to compete on an even footing with Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Sadiq stated the General Directorate of Border Passports and Expatriates Affairs should ensure speedy visa issuance for those taking part in exhibitions and conferences while Customs should quickly clear items to be exhibited.
Source: The Peninsula