ATM mirrors 'strength of regional tourism'
Dubai, May 25, 2011
The Arabian Travel Market (ATM), a premier travel and tourism event, has mirrored the strength of the regional tourism industry through its impressive post show figures despite unrest in parts of the Middle East, said the organisers.
The expo, which ran from May 2 to 5 in Dubai, witnessed a more than 10 per cent growth in the participant numbers whch hit 24,300 compared to 21,900 last year, said organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Despite regional unrest and the fragile economic recovery in other parts of the world, the participants at ATM were confident about strength of regional travel sector and optimistic about future growth prospects, it added.
According to Reed, more than 2,200 companies exhibited on a net floorspace of almost 20,000 sq m.
Although the official audited figures will not be available until next month, initial estimates for the 2011 Arabian Travel Market make impressive reading, said Mark Walsh, group exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“ATM is an effective barometer for the health of the regional travel and tourism sector. Notwithstanding our hugely popular seminar and conference programme, dedicated cruise and medical pavilions, the numbers and feedback comments echo the underlying confidence throughout the industry and wave of optimism going forward,” said Walsh.
ATM’s geographical breakdown of attendees shows how the event reflects the region’s appeal for international travel and tourism, not only those within the GCC but also the rest of the world, he pointed out.
"Visitors from destinations outside the Gulf (18 per cent) showed a moderate increase on 2010 figures, up 3 per cent on last year – particularly impressive given the ongoing challenges faced in some countries within the Middle East," said Walsh.
"These figures are a clear demonstration of just how robust the region’s tourism sector is, as travel and tourism operators and hoteliers from outside the Middle East look to the Gulf as an inbound source market of choice, especially given the slow pace of economic recovery across Europe and the US," he added.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, Saudi Arabia alone is the largest outbound travel market in terms of average spend, with travelers spending $6.7 billion per year on overseas travel.
Further evidence of the burgeoning inbound and outbound travel came from Dubai International Airport, which anticipates growth of 11 per cent and more than 52 million passengers in 2011, making it the fourth busiest airport in the world.
"Inbound tourism is in good health as well, with WTO research indicating inbound tourism to the Middle East returned to double digit growth of 14 per cent, 60 million visitors, with almost all destinations growing by 10 per cent or more in 2010,” added Walsh.
Contributing to the success of ATM are the quality of its conference and seminar programme, with industry experts discussing the top industry trends and issues, addressing headline topics from a variety of segments including aviation, luxury travel, travel technology, ‘green’ tourism and more.
The show also featured special offerings catering to specific parts of the travel trade, including Travel Agents Day and Careers Day.
Further responding to trends in region travel and tourism, this year’s ATM exhibition also included pavilions dedicated to the cruise and medical tourism sectors – both industry segments showing significant growth across the region, he explained.
Exhibitor feedback, said Walsh, clearly highlights the success of the show in unlocking new opportunities and providing a central forum for reaching customers, developing business opportunities and gathering industry intelligence.
“In promoting our fleet of luxury mega yachts, we generated new business and found ATM an ideal platform to inform the trade about what we can offer, as well as learning about the demands of the regional market here,” remarked Anne Fuldby, director of sales, Variety Cruises.
Others found the numerous networking opportunities provided by the event invaluable.
“The power of networking is crucial, and certainly within the travel and hospitality industry there’s no better way to develop lasting relationships than through face-to-face interaction. ATM is a great place to reinforce your brand,” said Rebecca Wilson, director, ESP International.
Importantly for the region, with some countries having experienced political unrest in recent months, others spoke of the role ATM plays in rebuilding national tourism industries.
Azza Zaghloul, managing director of Egyptian Harty Tours said, “Following the period of instability in Egypt, ATM was a good opportunity to emphasise that we are still in business."
"With a niche luxury product, I was able to meet with hosted buyers from Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Kuwait and Saudi," he stated.
With preparations for Arabian Travel Market 2012 already underway, next year’s show will be held from April 30 to May 3, with earlybird bookings already active, said Walsh.-TradeArabia News Service