ORGANISERS of Arabian Travel Market 2008 (ATM) said that the number of quality visitors attending the Middle East’s largest travel show was this year more than 15 percent up on 2007 figures.
“We saw very positive increases in the quality of visitor coming through the show’s doors this year. With considerable purchasing power, these visitors had the authority to sign deals on the spot, reiterating the importance buyers place on the region as a key tourism market,” said Simon Press, exhibition director, ATM, which ran at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) from May 6 to 9.
Organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions said the increase in quality visitors, which were judged predominantly on purchasing power, reflected the show’s comprehensive, content rich standing in one of the most dynamic and fastest growing tourism markets in the world.
With over $100 billion worth of tourism development projects being showcased at ATM, the global industry, seeking to identity core business opportunities, received a first hand look at the Middle East’s impressive tourism portfolio.
“The Middle East is the fastest growing and most dynamic travel and tourism market in the world. As such, buyers from across the globe attend ATM to meet with potential customers and to identify key opportunities. As organisers of the event, we have increased the show’s offering and developed a more holistic environment for the industry’s players to conduct business. This is clearly paying immediate dividends,” said Press.
With over 2,200 exhibitors from 70 countries represented at this year’s show, organisers believe destinations and companies from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas utilised ATM to promote their offerings to an increasingly affluent Middle Eastern customer base.
“The Middle East’s outbound tourism potential is increasing dramatically and the international tourism market is leveraging the show to promote their destinations,” he said.
At the opening ceremony HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of the Emirates Airline Group, said that if the Middle East is to continue achieving unprecedented inbound tourism growth, regional countries need to ensure their product offerings compliment one another.
“Tourism is booming across the Middle East, not only here in the UAE. However, this growth can only continue if we take a consolidated approach to make sure that each country’s individual tourism products and domestic strategies compliment one another,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
Regional bookings for the 2008 show were up five percent on last year, with representation from all Middle East countries - a show first - signalling a strengthening of the region’s diverse tourism propositions.
Close to 90 new exhibitors were present, with more than 62 national tourist bodies taking space including show debutants Bangladesh, The Philippines, Djibouti, Georgia, Senegal and Nepal. A total of 120 hosted buyers also attended.
“Exhibitors have gone all out this year to show the stunning diversity of their offerings,” said Press.
DIECC’s stand included performing acrobats, caricature artists, dance troupes and magicians; dancers from the international performing group Cirque du Soleil entertained at the Nakheel stand, Dubailand’s stand displayed cartoon characters, superheroes and animated stars including those from Freej, Marvel’s Spiderman, The Hulk and The Thing; and many countries displayed their heritage and traditions.
Abdulla Al Falasi, Dubai World Central’s marketing and corporate communications director said, “Our participation was aimed at local, regional and global investors. The project’s recent developments - geared to boost tourism and business – will position Dubai not only as a tourist attraction, but also as a regional business hub. The response we received was encouraging, reaffirming our faith in what DWC - as a government of Dubai entity - hopes to accomplish in the next few years.”
Hojoo Sung, manager, Korean National Tourism Organisation said, “Our objective was to attract tour operators at this year’s Arabian Travel Market. The show is getting bigger by the year and it has been very helpful to us. Dubai is the trend leader of the Arab world and Arabian Travel Market is the most efficient way to promote to the market. We’re thinking about taking a bigger space next year and our hotel partners have been really busy – they’ve had a really good response.”