One of the industries most impacted by Covid-19 has undoubtedly been aviation, according to the latest figures from the International Air Travel Association (IATA). The sector witnessed total losses of US$118 billion in 2020, with demand down 61 per cent compared to 2019.
Closer to home, passenger traffic at Dubai Airports fell by 64 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year, resulting in a decline of 32.5 million to 17.9 million in 2020 - sombre reading for anyone associated with the tourism and travel industry.
However, the first green shoots of recovery could be on the horizon according to the latest research from YouGov, which has revealed the percentage of people around the world intending to travel internationally this year.
The poll, conducted during October and November 2020, asked recipients if they were planning to make an international trip within the next 12 months. The results showed 48 per cent of UAE residents confirmed they intended to travel, with Saudi Arabia coming in a close second with 46 per cent of respondents confirming their intention to travel abroad in 2021.
In terms of outbound travel, many expatriates will be looking for a relaxing holiday or to travel home to see family and friends following the restrictions imposed in 2020. From an inbound perspective, it is welcome news that almost a third of Germans polled said they intended to travel internationally. This is particularly encouraging when considering Germany is one of the largest feeder markets to the GCC with over 1.8 million overnight stays in 2018.
Indeed, over 316,000 Germans visited Dubai between January and June 2019.
The travel industry recovery could also be supported by the current and imminent rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to countries around the world. The count for nationals and residents receiving it in the UAE eclipsed a million by mid-January. The United Kingdom and the United States are also rolling out the vaccination in the millions, and Europe is following closely behind.
With international travel slowly increasing, Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021 will return to a live format once again this year at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from May 16 to 19.
The theme this year is ‘new dawn for travel and tourism’ which is being underscored by the increasing willingness and desire to travel internationally, combined with the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine to millions of people globally. We believe we are edging ever closer to recovery for the industry.
To complement the four-day live show, we will also be adding an ATM Virtual event which will run the week after, on May 24 to 26, 2021. This is designed to accommodate those unable to travel to Dubai while also forming an integral element of the week-long Arabian Travel Week.
Other notable features of this showcase include International Luxury Travel Market Arabia, (ILTM Arabia) and Travel Forward, the travel technology vertical. ATM will also be partnering with Arival, with content covering future trends for tour operators and destination managers.
Other highlights include the Buyers Forums dedicated to key source markets including Saudi Arabia, India and China, a virtual digital influencers' speed networking session, a hotel summit, and a responsible tourism programme.
We continue to work hand-in-hand with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and the DWTC who is working hard to ensure all events run safely by implementing a range of measures including an enhanced cleaning regime, improved air circulation, and multiple hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks.
Last year was one of the most challenging years the travel and tourism industry has ever faced. Recovery is paramount, and we believe Arabian Travel Market is the platform to help achieve it.
* The writer is Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.