MTF 2004 set to be biggest ever

A file picture of MTF 2003

IN its fourth year, the Mediterranean Travel Fair 2004 (MTF 2004), set to take place between September 14 and 16 at the Cairo International Convention and Exhibition Centre, will be the biggest yet with a growth of 22 per cent over 2003 and increased numbers of travel trade professionals and Meridian club delegates pre-registered to attend.

TTN caught up with Vicky Crane, marketing manager, overseas events, Reed Travel Exhibitions, which organises the exhibition. Excerpts from an interview:

What’s special about MTF this year?
This year sales have soared and we are 21 per cent up on visitor pre-registrations compared to last year. We have a number of new exhibitors at the event including several countries which we are introducing to the show for first time as well as those we are welcoming back from a short absence. These include countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Brazil, Italy and we’re paticularly excited about the presence of the Supreme Commission for Tourism, Saudi Arabia who are taking 120 sq m at their first MTF.  We also have number of National Tourist Organisations returning to MTF and we can report very strong representation from the Egyptian participants.
Again, we have a full educational seminar programme planned with key speakers attending from around the globe. Social events will include the annual gala dinner hosted by Ahmed Al Maghraby, the new Egyptian minister of tourism, as well as a Lebanese evening hosted by the tourist attaché of Egypt, Faisal Fatfat.

What are the challenges when organising an event like this?
The industry now understands the important difference between the regions we promote at Arabian Travel Market (of the pan-Arab and GCC states) and that of MTF, the Eastern Mediterranean area encompassing Libya, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Syria. Although these disparities have been recognised, MTF has to work hard every year to pull in new exhibitors, new countries due to the size of the outbound tourism market from Egypt. This however, is growing in strength and MTF can help to develop this market by bringing new business to the region, and by helping to promote and educate sceptics.

What role has MTF played in focusing attention on the Mediterranean region, both in the leisure and MICE markets? 
MTF has turned attention to the region we identify as the Eastern Mediterreanean by making the clear difference between country groupings and thier tourism markets. The presence of MTF within Egypt has helped the industry to recognise the importance of this ever-increasing tourism destination in terms of both personal/leisure travel as well as that necessary for businesses and incentive markets.

What steps are needed to further boost tourism in the region?
Plans for more sophisticated tourism infrastructure are in place or already underway. As understanding in the difference and distance between areas of unrest increases, I have no doubt tourism will further develop. 

How do you attract new participants?
MTF has a very proactive sales team which works closely with our Egyptian agent in Cairo to develop new contacts. Although new leads are always important, the success of the event speaks for itself as MTF has grown in size and number of participants every year. This is helping to attract those destinations / tourist boards who otherwise may not have shown interest. 

Finally, for you personally, what will you look forward to having achieved at the close of this year’s event?
We have been watching visitor pre-registration figures rise every week since our marketing campaign began back in May. Till recently, we were still 21 per cent up on registrations of the same time in 2003. Although there is no guarantee that these visitors will attend, I do hope that with the hard work of our sales and marketing teams combined, we are able to deliver the best show yet to all MTF delegates.