Mediterranean showcase

The Oberoi Hotels stand at the event.

The second Mediterranean Travel Fair this month is expected to be bigger and better with more than 200 exhibitors taking part.

Total floor space covered at this month's exhibition is also expected to increase by 20 per cent over last year, organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions said.

Companies from 18 countries have already signed up with the MTF which will be held at the Cairo International Convention & Exhibition Centre from September 24-26.

"This is a very encouraging indication that the show will hit all targets", said Hibba Bilal, RTE's account manager for the region.

The Government of India, Jordan Tourism Board and Tunisia National Tourist Office return to the show in an official capacity with significant increases in their stand space.

Bahrain and Dubai will be exhibiting for the first time this year, which is a key indicator that the show continues its momentum of growth throughout the region, said Bilal.

"The regional market focus of MTF is one of the most important sectors for Dubai's tourism industry and it is one of our priorities to stimulate growth in this key sector," said Khalid A bin Sulayem, the director general of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

"Middle Eastern tourists travel frequently and are amongst the highest per capita spenders in the world. Regional tourism is a profitable and sought after segment but the competition's fierce, so we have to market Dubai to our potential visitors at such an important event."

Private sector company Destination Asia from Thailand will be represented for the first time this year as well as the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) who will be taking a stand as a first time exhibitor.

Pata will also be organising a seminar focussing on current tourism trends for the region.

The Connected International Meeting Professionals Association (CIMPA) and Green Globe will also be running seminars during MTF.

Europe will also be strongly represented at this year's event. Cyprus, Slovakia, Italy and the UK have all confirmed their participation.

The Spanish Tourist Board are once again exhibiting at MTF and have significantly increased their space this year, which they feel is necessary to attract Egyptian tour operators and tourism professionals to their stand.

"MTF delegates will be given the opportunity to meet groups from both the private tourism sector and regional tourism boards," said Guillermo Puerto, director of the Spanish Tourism Board.

"Our aim at the show is to enhance the quality of information we provide on our country and to develop our contacts between Spanish and Egyptian private companies, therefore strengthening relations between our countries.

"I have no doubt that Egypt will become a booming market for Spain".

MTF has the support of the Egyptian government, Egyptian Travel Agents Association, the Egyptian Hotel Association and official carrier Egypt Air.

A huge number of leading private sector companies will also be present at the show this year including, Travco, National Travel Service, Wings Tours, Misr Travel, Thomas Cook, Eastmar and Emeco Travel who are also the local groundhandler for the event.

MTF 2000, the debut event, was an overwhelming success with more than 3,000 participants attending the show.

The event highlights a region rich in history and culture which has a growing outbound and intra-regional travel market.

The Mediterranean non-European countries, namely, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Turkey have seen continued and sustained growth in tourist arrivals.

In 1999, Egypt witnessed record growth in tourism with over 4.8 million visitors, staying 31 million room nights, according to a report by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism.

Nearly two thirds of visitors were from Europe, mainly Germany, France and Italy.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), outbound and intra-regional personal and business travel is set to reach over $5 billion from Egypt and over $30 billion from the region as a whole this year.