'The buzz is definitely back'
AFTER four days of travel trade business, Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012, reported a healthy increase in visitor numbers, driven by the show’s renewed B2B focus and buoyed by positive indicators from the region’s tourism sector.
“The 2011 event attracted over 16,000 trade visitors and indicators for this year show an increase of between 7-10 per cent,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The 19th edition of the show also saw a significant rise in decision makers and influencers – up by 35 per cent – from members of its buyers club, hosted delegates, regional and international speakers and hosted luxury travel buyers.
The show was inaugurated by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Independently ABC-audited, ATM 2012 also recorded a seven per cent increase in exhibitors for this year’s event ahead of the start of the show, with more than 21,000 sq m of floor space hosting over 2,400 exhibitors and 82 new companies.
This increase was also reflected in its international reach with 54 national pavilions and 87 countries represented overall.
“The business buzz is definitely back. The regional travel industry is in an exceptionally buoyant mood and participants are positive and confident. Our decision to reconfigure the floor plan to a more easily navigable and convenient format this year has also helped to facilitate busier appointment schedules,” said Walsh.
Walsh’s comments were echoed by a wide variety of participants, both regional and international, inbound and outbound, right across the industry spectrum.
“This is my second year as a visitor and the new layout is definitely easier to navigate. Our focus was the expanding opportunities in apartment accommodation, and I was very impressed to find an entire section dedicated to this,” said Cori Terblanche, Travel World, South Africa.
“If we look solely at the European exhibitors for example, floor space has grown from last year and we have seen a surge in interest from destinations eager to attract the affluent Middle Eastern traveller,” added Walsh.
Tamara Khalil, group director marketing, Katara Hospitality, in Qatar, reinforced the renewed wave of business optimism. “ATM was the right platform for us to launch our new corporate identity to the market. The show remains the prime vehicle for the regional industry to share its news, network with the key players and meet potential partners.”
This sentiment was echoed by global exhibitors. US-based tour operator, and first time exhibitor, TeamAmerica CEO, Enzo Perretta, said: “ATM is the only way to go to reach the Middle East and Asian markets, and we’ve had four full days during which we’ve met the key players and decision makers in our target markets.”
The newly introduced Technology Theatre, which ran throughout the four-day show, proved to be a major draw for industry professionals looking to capitalise on market opportunity through the implementation of groundbreaking technologies and new social media channels.
“Not only have we signed a number of new contracts on site, but we have also concluded a number of significant partnership agreements that would not have otherwise been possible,” said Osama Abdulrahman, manager of Dubai-based cheaperskies.com.
“Being host hotel for this year’s ATM gave us invaluable face time with hosted buyers as well as the opportunity to introduce targeted top international travel writers and key members of the regional media to our property,” added Andrew Hughes, director sales & marketing for the Mövenpick-managed Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel.
“Looking ahead to 2013, rebookings are already extremely positive and we will continue to develop the show’s offering to reflect regional opportunities as well as global industry trends. Next year’s ATM will be 20 years old and we are certainly in celebratory mood already,” concluded Walsh.