ATM 2005 registers unprecedented growth
Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2005, the region’s premier travel and tourism event, took place between May 3 and 6 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
It registered an unprecedented growth with 31 per cent more occupied floor space than last year and over 1,800 exhibitors from 64 countries.
The 12th in the annual series and spanning more than 16,000 sq m, ATM 2005 was the largest-ever and organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), said further growth is on the cards for next year too.
Speaking after opening the ATM 2005, Dubai’s Crown Prince and UAE Defence Minister, HH General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, commented: “The growth in this show reflects Dubai’s strong position on the international tourist map. We have achieved a great deal of progress and have gained much experience in the tourism sector and we are ready to help other countries to utilise this experience.”
Sheikh Mohammed toured ATM along with Tom Nutley, chairman, RTE, and a large VVIP contingent. In the VVIP delegation were HH Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Information and Culture, HE Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Civil Aviation, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president, Department of Civil Aviation, Government of Dubai and Chairman of the Emirates Group and HE Sheikh Hasher Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, director general, Dubai’s Department of Information.
“We have repeatedly recorded growth, since this show was launched in 1994, with an average of 10 per cent per annum, but this year the response has been overwhelming,” said Nutley. “This mirrors the continuing emergence of the tourism industry throughout this region and international recognition of the value of its outbound market.”
“Growth is due to a number of factors, increasing stand space from the Middle East and Asia and the entry of more than 100 first-time exhibitors”, explained Nutley.
UAE developer, Nakheel, had the biggest stand in the show’s history with more than 800 sq m. India also had the largest ATM presence ever with a 504 sq m pavilion and Dubailand upped the ante from 220 last year to 645 sq m this year.
The Maldives, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka had each taken up more space this year and Malaysia had an impressive 400 sq m pavilion. Amongst the new entries this year were Finland and South Africa’s first national pavilion at the show as well as a multitude of travel and tourism organisations from across the globe.
Recent World Tourism Organisation statistics confirm that the Middle East’s inbound tourism sector will grow at an annual average of seven per cent every year until 2020, far outpacing every other region in the world and reaching the 65 million mark.
The Middle East is now the world’s fourth most visited region as it registered more than 35 million arrivals last year. This dramatic rise in tourism arrivals and its potential to double within the next 15 years will further fuel demand for ATM floor space.
Outbound demand is as buoyant as ever with new destinations seeking a share of the lucrative Middle East travellers’ business.
The Middle East’s growing airline sector with the advent of new-to-market players and the increased frequency of flights and addition of new exciting destinations in the portfolios of the region’s established carriers are playing a major role in the rapid development of outbound traffic.
Industry statistics repeatedly show that Arab tourists from the Gulf states alone spend about $12 billion on overseas vacations. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest outbound markets with tourists from the Kingdom spending $6.7 billion annually on overseas travel that is about five per cent of the country’s GDP.
“The show’s global appeal is a sound proof of Dubai’s dramatic emergence as a top international destination, which constantly invests in its tourism product to stay at the forefront of the sector’s development and to reach its targets,” explained Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman, manager media relations at DTCM.
Nearly 70 of the world’s leading travel buyers from with the GCC and the international MICE sector were hosted at ATM 2005. Many flew with Emirates, the official carrier for the event, and stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Dubai, the official hosted-buyer property for this year’s event.
“This event is setting industry standards with each passing year and our continuous support of ATM is testimony to Emirates’ commitment to the travel and tourism sectors and a tangible example of our active contribution to Dubai’s economy,” commented Hamad Obaidalla, senior vice-president commercial operations Gulf, Middle East and Iran at Emirates.
ATM 2005 also benefit from a free-to-attend educational programme including a conference and seminar series. The Travel Distribution Executive Conference, an exclusive venue inside the show, where trade professionals met, questioned and did business with travel distribution leaders was held on May 4. The seminar explored the latest industry topics including trends in the UAE’s Outbound Travel, Arabian Travel and Tourism the 2005-2015 Economic Forecasts organised by the World Travel and
Tourism Council, How to Sell to American and European MICE Buyers, Aiming for the Summit and The Jordan Tourism Board’s Helping Nature, Helping People.
Friday, May 6, was allocated consumer day with the public allowed entry for a special evening session. This year, entry fees from the consumer session was donated to RTE’s “Just A Drop” charity to provide fresh water to communities ravaged by the December tsunami in Asia.
BY JONNA SIMON