All You Need To Know About The Arabian Travel Market
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All You Need To Know About The Arabian Travel Market

All You Need To Know About The Arabian Travel Market

Exhibitors are queuing up to promote themselves at the 20th edition of the ATM next week, as the region’s travel and tourism operators embrace the upturn.

Gulf Business

The first Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in 1994 was a pale shadow of the exhibition that’s gearing up for its twentieth anniversary between May 6-9. The travel industry was radically different back then of course; Qatar Airways had only been formed a few months earlier, it would be another decade before Etihad took to the skies and Emirates, while relatively well established, was only nine years old.

Hospitality had yet to slip into gear; the construction of the island that would host Burj Al Arab had only just got underway.

Milestones always serve as a useful reference for how far we’ve come – and in the context of the last two decades in the Gulf’s travel and tourism industry, that’s a very long distance – verging on the immeasurable.

So it’s appropriate that a panel session entitled 20 Years: Now, Then and Tomorrow will open the week-long seminar series at this year’s exhibition on May 6, providing a look back at the UAE’s travel achievements during the last 20 years.

But that might be it for nostalgics though; if there’s one thing that’s characterised ATMs in recent years, and indeed Gulf economies as a whole, it’s been the perennial focus on ‘now and tomorrow’ – as befits the Middle East’s rapidly emerging status on the international travel scene.

To that effect, another popular session will be ‘The Big Conversation’ as Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline, and Qantas Airways CEO Alan Joyce, reflect on the recent launch of their global partnership.

Joyce said the partnership makes long-haul travel seamless and faster “for millions of Australians” and the two airlines now offer 98 flights a week between Dubai and Australia. Qantas will dovetail with Emirates’ strong European network and the two will partner closest in the UK, where the codeshare covers both London airports, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organisers of Arabian Travel Market, said Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all continue to outpace their international counterparts with high passenger volume loads and ever-expanding networks, “which is having a positive effect on the region’s hotel construction pipeline”.

After the ‘cautiously optimistic’ years, this year’s event at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre is likely to be ‘firmly optimistic’ with a six per cent increase in exhibitor floor space, to 22,144 sq m, reflecting the upturn that’s now sweeping across the region’s travel scene.

Demand is up across all participating regions, with North Africa leading the way (29 per cent) and Europe and Americas up by 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively, while Peru makes its ATM debut.

Hot-market Turkey has committed an additional 25 per cent exhibition floor space, and will welcome two new regional tourism bodies, the Bursa Eskişehir Bilecik Development Agency and Dogu Karadeniz Illeri Hizmet ve Kalkinma Birligi, while new hotel exhibitors for 2013 include the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Rocco Forte and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts.

With online bookings expected to account for 22 per cent of all travel bookings regionally within the next two years, and topping $15.8 billion in value, this year’s ATM has a new Digital and Technology Day designed to foster closer understanding of this pivotal market-within-a-market.

Google will sponsor the ATM Technology Theatre as part of the newly launched Digital Technology Day on May 8, sharing its insights of the travel industry and technology under the Think Travel theme, and it will release the findings of a Google-commissioned research study conducted by IPSOS. Executives will analyse how the web is being used for travel decisions and how travel brands can drive engagement and increase their online brand awareness.

Wrapping up the week, Industry Careers Day will provide a direct opportunity for visitors looking to make a career move to meet with corporate human resources contacts searching for new talent and seasoned industry executives.

A recent Dubai Chamber study, supported by statistics published by Business Monitor International, puts UAE tourism sector growth at 6.5 per cent annum between 2011-2021, with visitors from the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific the key source markets. While Dubai retains its pre-eminent position at the Gulf’s tourism table, other GCC states are raising their profiles.

Qatar’s travel and tourism is in fifth gear in line with the $65 billion investment plan ahead of its hosting of the 2022 football World Cup, while Kuwait is now midway through its latest five-year tourism plan, which has leisure sector growth as its focus, underpinned by a second airport terminal by 2016, and $7 billion metro system by 2020.

In Saudi Arabia, tourism receipts for Hajj and Umrah currently account for around three per cent of GDP and, according to tourism officials, the country gained a reported $16.5 billion from tourism in 2012, representing a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.


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