AWTTE 2004 draws 20pc more visitors
THE Arab World Travel and Tourism Exchange (AWTTE 2004), organised by the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism and Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group in cooperation with Middle East Airlines, took place from October 7 to 10 at BIEL Centre in Beirut.
The event was held under the patronage and presence of the President of Lebanon, General Emile Lahoud, and welcomed as guest of honour, hotel investor and Kingdom Holding Company chairman Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal.
A total of 6252 visitors from 50 different countries attended AWTTE 2004, which registered a 20-per-cent increase in trade and general visitors as compared to 2003. Sixteen countries hosted national pavilions and 140 companies exhibited at the show. The largest category exhibiting at the event 2004 was the hotel and resort sector, with 35 per cent of exhibitors. Travel agents and tour operators made up 18 per cent of the rest and ministries and tourism authorities comprised 14 per cent.
Around 800 people were present at the opening ceremony, including ministers, ambassadors and representatives of several Arab national tourism authorities. The event incorporated the AWTTE 2004 Conference, where Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal was guest of honour. Several other regional tourism authorities presented summaries of their countries’ tourism status and available investment opportunities to investors and promoters. Among the subjects tackled were the current status and outlook of Arab tourism, promotion polices, airlines’ contribution and the role of mega projects in developing the tourist market.
Several prominent regional tourism leaders were honoured with the Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Lifetime Achievement Award during AWTTE 2004. These included Prince Walid Bin Talal, Sheikh Tarek Al-Qasimi, chairman of the Sharjah Tourism Development Authority, for his efforts in promoting the emirate as a tourist destination, and Akbar Al Baker, chairman of the Qatar Tourism Agency and CEO of Qatar Airways, for the airline’s outstanding performance under his leadership.
At the event, Amine E Moukarzel, VP and managing director, MENA, Flamingo Hotel Management Company, announced five new hotels in Dubai, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt by 2005. These are in addition to 20 existing Golden Tulip and nine Flamingo properties in the region. The latest hotels within the Flamingo portfolio are hotels in Damman and Dubai’s Knowledge Village. An agreement for a 120-room Flamingo Hotel in Dubai is to be signed this month.
Rotana Hotels also announced that it is right on course with its expansion plan in Lebanon. After the opening of the Hazmieh Rotana Hotel, the Gefinor Rotana Hotel said that it is adding 36 fully-equipped and serviced studios and suites and to its 128 existing rooms.
Also in the news at AWTTE was the Al Habtoor Group’s Metropolitan Hotels International. The Metropolitan Palace Hotel Beirut, which was the Gold Host Hotel Sponsor of the exhibition, hosted the opening gala dinner of AWTTE.
The building of the Habtoor Grand Hotel Convention Centre & Spa opposite the Metropolitan Place Hotel will create “Habtoor City”, putting Beirut on the map for conferences and incentives with their excellent location close to the city, mountains and airport. Said Heinz Sedlacek, chief executive, Lebanon, Metroplitan Hotels International, “The Habtoor Grand Hotel Convention Centre & Spa will be as good, if not better, than the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.”