‘ATM 2005 will be the largest ever’

CHRIS CHACKAL on the region’s premier travel and tourism exhibition
Chackal ... ‘ I expect ATM 2005 to maintain the high standards set by the previous shows’

MORE than 1,800 exhibitors from 61 countries are taking part in the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2005, the region’s premier travel and tourism exhibition, to be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 3 to 6.

ATM 2005 will be the largest ever and indeed the largest travel exhibition of its kind in the Middle East and pan-Arab region, according to the organiser of the show, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE). “We are optimistic about another record-breaking show,” Chris Chackal, group exhibitions director of RTE, said in an interview with TTN. “The Middle East is a key feeder market for major international destinations and ATM gives the chance to these regions as well as other destinations worldwide to showcase their product offering in front of an affluent audience.”
Excerpts from the interview:

TTN: How will ATM 2005 be different from previous years?
Chris Chackal: ATM 2005 will be the largest ever and indeed the largest travel exhibition of its kind in the Middle East and pan-Arab region. The show has grown by more 2,000 sq m this year, which gives us a total of approximately 15,800sq m.
That growth has come from existing exhibitors taking more space plus we have companies exhibiting for the first time at this year’s ATM. The event’s international flavour has been enhanced with countries such as Finland and Azerbaijan being represented for the first time and South Africa having committed to its first ATM national pavilion.
The floor plan has a new L-shape look in order to accommodate the stand increases and the new participants at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The new layout improves the flow of visitor traffic throughout the show further enhancing the ATM experience for visitors and exhibitors. Dubai Radio Network will also be broadcasting live from this year’s show and will be interviewing exhibitors and visitors from the floor.
ATM continues its successful seminar and conference programme this year. Each year, the programme grows in popularity with attendance increasing significantly year-on-year. That growth is expected to continue with industry organisations such as the World Luxury Council and the World Travel & Tourism Council participating. In addition, there will be sessions on eco tourism, meetings and incentives and sessions on regional travel trends and economic forecasts.
This year, the consumer session will be on Friday, May 6, between 4pm and 9pm, with the Dh5 per person consumer entrance fee going to the travel industry’s charity, ‘Just A Drop’, as a donation to the Asian countries that were stricken by the Tsunami disaster.
The official host hotel for this year is the Grand Hyatt Dubai which will host key MICE and leisure buyers as well as members of the press. ATM will be the first new international member joining ITTFA (International Travel Trade Fair Association), previously known as ETTFA for European fairs only.
What are your expectations from this year’s ATM?
In more general terms I expect ATM 2005 to maintian the high standards set by the previous shows.

How many exhibitors and visitors are expected for the show? What is the growth, in terms of space and expected exhibitors, compared to last year?
What I can say with certainty is that we’ve seen continued keen interest this year from all the key visitor markets and that I’m confident of matching last year’s extraordinarily high visitor numbers.
Since 2002, ATM has in stand space terms grown by over 79 per cent. This year visitors will be able to meet with more than 1,800 exhibitors from 61 countries. At least 83 of those exhibitors will be making their ATM debut.

What are the special facilities provided for exhibitors and country pavilions?
The hosted-buyer session on Tuesday, May 3, afternoon at the show is invaluable. MICE buyers from countries including France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand join tour operators from the GCC in our hosted-buyer session.

Could you please provide details on delegation and special guests expected to attend ATM?
Key Dubai government officials are expected to attend the show as it is customary for every edition of ATM. We also expect tourism ministers and heads from across the world to attend.

How has ATM impacted on tourism in recent years?
ATM is the region’s foremost travel and tourism industry exhibition. Its breathtaking growth mirrors the continuous increase in the Middle East’s inbound sector, which has recently established it as the fourth most visited region in the world, above Africa. The region is also going to witness a seven per cent average annual increase in incoming visitors until the year 2020, which is the world’s highest.
ATM has contributed immensely to the industry’s startling growth. Conversely, the Middle East is a key feeder market for major international destinations such as Europe, the Far East and North America and the annual ATM event gives the chance to these regions as well as other destinations worldwide to showcase their product offering in front of an affluent audience.

This is your first ATM as exhibitions director.  What are the challenges you faced in organising the event?
ATM is a well established exhibition in the international travel and tourism industry events calendar. The main challenge for me and my predecessors is, and always has been, to better accommodate the request for increased floor space every year. This need stems from the growing number of regular or first-time exhibitors which demand more space at the show every year.
This year we had to increase the floor space by almost a third compared to last year, in order to ensure that all requests for participation will be properly serviced. Thanks to the excellent cooperation we enjoy with the Government of Dubai, we always manage to expand and at the same time maintain and even improve the quality standards of service we provide to exhibitors and visitors alike.

What role has ATM played in focusing attention on tourism in the Arab world internationally?
ATM is the key launching platform for companies wishing to showcase the results of their continuous investments in tourism infrastructure and leisure developments across the Pan Arab region. It creates the ideal forum and business-like environment for key international buyers to meet suppliers and develop new contacts and partnerships. The event includes a comprehensive programme of seminars and conferences which highlight key performance indicators and analyse how future industry trends are being shaped for the region.

Interviewed by
Vipul Ananda