Mideast travel industry robust
Dubai, May 1, 2011
Countries in the Middle East region displayed amazing resilience during the economic downturn, as hotel rates, occupancy levels and other indicators continued to reflect a robust regional travel and tourism industry, said an expert.
'Except Libya and Syria, life in the region is slowly returning to normal, while destinations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai actually recorded increased visitor numbers in February,' said Mark Walsh, exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organsiers of ATM.
Walsh set the tone for the upcoming travel event as it gears up to welcome more than 2,200 exhibitors from 69 countries thus highlighting the underlying strength of the regional tourism industry.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Middle East currently receives more than 36 million visitors per year, with this figure set to climb to 69 million tourists by 2020, an average growth rate of 6.7 per cent even before factoring in the substantial positive impact of Qatar’s successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.
Spotlighting the strength of certain regional destinations, Walsh pointed to the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
“In the UAE, the number of hotel guests in Dubai grew by 10.7 per cent during 2010, while Abu Dhabi saw visitor growth of 18 per cent in 2010.
“Qatar’s $100 billion programme of infrastructure expansion includes 80,000 new hotel rooms by 2022. In Oman, leisure tourism is already booming, with 10 per cent average annual growth in hotels stays.
Oman’s business tourism is also primed for growth, with the beginning of construction on the new $1 billion Oman Conference and Exhibition Centre in Muscat.
“Likewise, the Gulf’s most populous nation, Saudi Arabia, is also growing in popularity as a destination for religious, business and cultural tourism, with BMI anticipating growth of 6.7 per cent per year between now and 2014,” he added.
It is a similar success story for the region’s airlines, “As we at Emirates continue to grow our operations, ATM continues to play a critical role as a catalyst to connecting key industry figures from across the globe,” said Ahmed Khoory, senior vice president.
“It is an ideal platform for us to raise awareness of our new routes – Geneva, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro – as well as various other new initiatives across the Emirates Group,” he added.
Marc Dardenne, chief executive officer, Emaar Hospitality Group, also highlighted the importance of ATM in promoting regional travel and tourism, which play a key economic role across the Middle East.
“ATM reflects the robust performance of the travel, tourism and hospitality sector of Dubai, which continues to record strong growth in passenger arrivals and hotel stays. Tourism and hospitality are key pillars of the Dubai economy, and ATM fosters new regional and international partnerships that will boost the sectors.”
Ali Abu Monassar, chairman of The Vision Destination Management, said: 'Once again, we are proud to be associated with Arabian Travel Market and to work closely with its official partners and supporters.'
“The show proved to be not only an excellent business platform to showcase, launch and place products, but also an important pillar in the growth and reputation of our destination,” he added.
Saleh Al Geziry, director Overseas promotions and Inward Missions, DTCM, said, “This will be the largest ever participation by the DTCM. This year, we are participating at Arabian Travel Market with as many as 137 co-participants that include some of the leading travel trade and tour operators in the UAE.'
'Our participation will be complemented by other leading players in the industry including The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Airports and Emirates Airlines, among others,' he added.-TradeArabia News Service