The sixth edition of Mediterranean Travel Fair (MTF), the region’s major travel and tourism event, held from September 6 to 8 at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre, has been hailed successful by both exhibitors and visitors to the show.
The show was inaugurated by a high-level delegation comprising the Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Egyptian minister of tourism Ahmed El Maghraby and the chairman of Reed Travel Exhibition (RTE), organisers of the event, Tom Nutley.
Maghraby expressed enthusiasm about the state of the country’s tourism, which has recovered, after the recent incidents on the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh. “Although we have experienced this month (September) a 15 per cent drop in arrivals compared with last year, there are clear signs the industry is on the way to recovery;” he said.
MTF is dedicated to, and designed specifically for, meeting the wealth of the opportunities offered by the region it encompasses and its objective is to bring together tourism professionals from all over the world to form a business network and promote destinations.
The success of this year’s show, that attracted 178 exhibitors from 28 countries despite recent attacks at Sharm El Sheikh, reflects the industry’s resilience. The show also witnessed 20 per cent increase in the number of visitor turnout. There was also an increase in the number of international visitors to the show. “A wider mix of nationalities amongst international visitors was noted as was an increase in the calibre of attendees,” according to the organisers.
For the first time the host country had an “Official Egyptian Pavilion”, consisting of the Egyptian Tourist Authority, Egyptian Hotels Association, Egypt Air, the Egyptian Travel Agents Association, Governorates and the Egyptian Tourism Federation. The show also saw the return of number of major hotels, including Marriott Hotels Egypt, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels Egypt and Accor Egypt all of whom participated on larger stands than MTF 2004. In addition, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels returned to the show after two years.
There was a strong presence from Egypt including Port Ghalib, who previously exhibited as Marsa Alam but following the Red Sea resort destination community development, exhibited under its new brand name.
Among the international exhibitors, Greece increased its stand size from 60sq m in 2004 to 101 sq m this year (a 59 per cent increase), Turkey took triple its stand size and India also increased its stand size by over 60 per cent. Other participants included The Supreme Commission for Tourism Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar Airways, Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Kuwait, Thomas Cook Egypt, Gezira Travel, Egypt, and Zoser Partner Hotels to name a few.
The show also had 35 first-time exhibitors including Rotana Hotels and tourism authorities from Ghana, Cuba, Korea and Thailand. Besides, Kenya was present in an official capacity for the first time.
In order to further enhance the show, RTE launched a number of new initiatives. These included a dedicated MICE hosted buyers programme – a successful formula used at other shows organised by RTE, including the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, which allows exhibitors to do business with MICE buyers from all around the world. According to Chris Chackal, overseas group exhibitions director, RTE, “The meetings and incentives houses of Europe and the rest of the world are a key growth market for the whole of the Eastern Mediterranean region and MTF is in a unique position to attract these valuable and difficult to reach buyers. Using our expertise as show organisers and that of our partners, we ran our very first MIICE hosted buyer programme at this year’s show. Forty MICE buyers were incorporated in the programme and the feedback received from exhibitors was so good that we intend building on the programme next year.”
Besides the buyers hosted by RTE, 200 industry professionals were brought to the show by Egypt’s ministry of tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Federation (ETF).
This year’s show also featured the largest-ever programme of seminars.
By MRIDULA BHATTACHARYA