86pc of ATM 2007 booked out

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minster of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai tours ATM with Reed’s Tom Nutley

THE 13th Arabian Travel Market attracted a record number of trade buyers from 99 countries to the Dubai World Trade Centre – with total numbers up 10 per cent on last year’s figures to reach an all-time high of nearly 11,674.

Already, 86 per cent of this year’s floor space has been re-booked for ATM 2007.
ATM 2006 was attended by 974 media – up 29 per cent – with nearly a third travelling from overseas. The show had 38 per cent more allocated floor space at 22,229sqm to accommodate 1,750 exhibitors from 59 countries, including 114 first time participants.
“This augurs well for next year’s show, which will run from May 1 to 4.  With the level of interest already expressed and repeat bookings from exhibitors, next year promises to be even better,” said Chris Chackal, group exhibition director, Overseas Events, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), which organises ATM.
Statistics showed significant increases from North and South America, Asia and the Middle East – which accounted for 83.3 per cent of the total number of buyers attending the four day exhibition. “Trade visitors from the Americas were almost double last year and we believe this indicates new markets opening up for the show,” said Chackal. “Delegates signed in from countries not represented last year – including Andorra, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Macau, Mexico and Zimbabwe. Said Imad Iridi, sales manager of Dubai-based Alpha Tours, “Although this is the Arabian Travel Market – the huge number of visitors and exhibitors from Europe and the Americas, results in endless potential for new business avenues. I have signed a deal to bring a horse riding programme to our current listing of day trips.”
The organisers marked an increase in repeat visits from Meridian Club members, the top identified buyers attending ATM with the purpose and the authority to source and purchase travel products and services. Of the 1,445 Meridian Club members attending ATM 2006, approximately a third returned for business three days in a row.
The show housed 50 official tourism organisations including first-timers Japan, Ireland, Russia and Poland. Paul O’Neill, of CIE Tours International, who participated on first-time exhibitor Ireland’s stand, said the event reported brisk business on the first day. “I took a booking for 40 golfers from Dubai on a corporate trip within hours of the show opening,” he said.
Visit Sami, from northern Norway, also participating at ATM for the first time, signed a $125,000 deal on the show’s second day, said Risten Lango, manager of Visit Sami.
Trade visitors, too, reported expanding business opportunities and brokered deals within international markets – some visitors vowing to return to ATM 2007 as exhibitors. Netherlands-based Albert Stienssen, of Mekers Vakanties, reported business deals in new markets. “We have completed market breakthrough deals in South Korea and Cyprus that highlight the scope of ATM’s international opportunities,” he said.
Many of the exhibitors and trade visitors attended this year’s expanded free-to-attend seminar programme that covered diverse hot topics relevant to a wide interest within the travel and tourism industry.
“This has been our most successful show in Arabian Travel Market’s history,” said Lucie Dawkins, ATM marketing manager. “And with 86 per cent of this year’s floor space already re-booked for ATM 2007, we are on course for another record-breaking event.”