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PATA brings adventure mart to Al Ain
April 2018 8238

The PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart 2018 began on February 21 this year in Al Ain, UAE with 180 delegates from 33 countries in attendance for the three-day event.

Organised by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and hosted by The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), the event brought together international experts at the forefront of the adventure travel industry from both the private and public sectors to discuss the issues and opportunities in travel and tourism.

PATA CEO, Dr Mario Hardy, said, “The event aims to be a catalyst for generating new ideas and improving collaboration between public and private sector organisations. Throughout the Asia Pacific region, the Association understands the need for all stakeholders to work together in planning, building and promoting the uniqueness and diversity of each country’s offering. PATA is honoured to work with the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi in organising this event, which highlights their commitment to the responsible and sustainable development of the travel and tourism industry.”

On February 22, delegates heard from a diverse line-up of international speakers at the one-day conference under the theme ‘Adventure in a New Era’.

One of the hosted buyers, Anand Nagan Krishna, assistant manager, product and contracting, Algosaibi Travel, said: “Adventure tourism is a new thing for our market in Bahrain. I found the event to be very good, well organised, very useful for our trade, for meeting new people, new travel agents, hotels. I found a lot of product from Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, and it’s very educational to see how they arrange treks. We should be promoting this industry.”  

Charu Chand Thaker, executive director, Himalayan Holidays from Nepal is no stranger to adventure travel. “We are into adventure tourism but now we have a niche for ‘soft’ upmarket clients and we do tailor-made programmes for them. Nepal has some very luxurious hotels in the pipeline from jungle and mountain resorts to city hotels, so these properties will interest the upmarket clients and soft tours from this region. We already have a few connections here in the Middle East – we organised a Mount Everest expedition for the UAE army – it was successful and that gave us a lot of recognition. We have expat friends in the UAE and they visit us in Nepal on a regular basis too. We definitely hope to expand operations here.”

Al Ain has become the first city in the Middle East to host the PATA Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart this year, after joining the association in 2016.

Sultan Al Matawa Al Dhaheri, executive director – Tourism Sector, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, said: “We are working on a new hiking and cycling track in the Jebel Hafeet area of Al Ain; this should be ready this year. In fact, we are developing cycling tracks in different locations for different experiences. We have the empty quarter – gorgeous sand dunes, where we trying to get the private sector to develop itineraries and packages.”

“Last year, we had around 4.9 million hotel guests, which is an increase of 12 per cent over last year. We are seeing phenomenal growth in Abu Dhabi from the Asian markets, particularly from China, which is the number one international market now, followed by India, the UK, Germany, USA and Saudi Arabia. We are engaged with PATA because it will provide us a platform to go in-depth in Asian markets to go into specialisations such as medical tourism, educational tourism, adventure tourism and so on.”

* With inputs from interviews conducted by Kim Thomson

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