Optimism on the Mediterranean Sea

The annual Mediterranean Travel Fair saw higher attendance than ever, despite recent tensions in the Middle East. BABU KALYANPUR reports

A feeling of optimism over the future of tourism was clearly evident at last month’s Mediterranean Travel Fair (MTF) 2006, which was held in Cairo.

With higher attendance figures and growing international interest, the seventh edition of the MTF proved to be a success.
“The total number of trade visitors present at the show had risen by 25 per cent by midday on the second day of the exhibition, as compared to the corresponding period during MTF 2005. This included a record 326 international trade visitors,” said Catherine Vaughan, marketing manager, Mediterranean Travel Fair.
Trade pre-registration was up 27 per cent over last year which was testimony to the exhibition’s success in growing its resource base of participants.
The number of total stand holders in 2006 was 113 and a total of 27 countries were represented in this year’s exhibition.
Four new countries, Brazil, Bulgaria, France and Kosovo made their first appearance at the MTF. “We are delighted that MTF 2006 has generated this level of interest despite ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” Chris Chackal, group exhibition director, MTF, said. “We understand the impact of such tensions but are pleased that they do not prevent exhibitors and visitors from pursuing business as usual. Egypt has traditionally been a very safe and stable venue even during more acute spells of turmoil.”
Speaking at the opening, Egypt’s  Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garranah said, “MTF 2006 is a great opportunity for participants and exhibitors as it brings a huge number of key players in the travel industry under one roof. This is a must-attend event for anybody involved in the travel business in the eastern Mediterranean. It is also a great opportunity for Egypt to market its potential.”
Greece was this year's Feature Country and Dimitrios C Lambadarios, president of the Greek National Tourist Organisation, called the MTF one of the most important exhibitions in the Middle East and said developing tourist relations between Greece and Egypt is one of the most important issues on the agenda.
Most exhibitors were pleased with the response they got at the exhibition. Maison de la France director Pascal J Lepetre said, as first-time visitors, the response ‘was very good’. An official from the Brazilian embassy said many of the visitors were made aware that there are many wonderful things in Brazil other than football.
Morocco's Taibi Khatib, director of Middle East and Asia, said that his country has now participated for the fifth time in the MTF and said that the country had seen an improved response this year. He said he particularly admired the organisation of the conference and the fact that it attracted a considerable number of key players in the region.
Director of Overseas Promotions on the Dubai stand, Khaled Ibrahim, said he was pleased with the level of participants in the exhibition, indicating that the quality of stands was up to the highest standards.
Exhibitor personnel at Egyptian travel operator Travco, a regular exhibitor at the event since its inception, said this year's event attracted more exhibitors than last year. “There is a great emphasis on the eastern Mediterranean markets and we need to take advantage of such events to market Egypt with its diverse tourism products. We are trying to market Marsa Matrouh as a new destination, which has the Almaza Beach Resort, 38km East Matrouh,” said Travco’s Yara Salib.
The Kosovo delegation, a first-time participant, said they were impressed with the level of organisation of the event.
The Indian delegation expressed satisfication at the response.
New exhibitors in particular were impressed with the level of engagement they could achieve during the event, while regular participants said they were satisfied with the consistent developments they see in every session of MTF.

MTF 2007
The venue and date for the next year's Mediterranean Travel Fair (MTF) is under review, according to Reed Exhibitions’ Chris Chackal.
There was much speculation at this year’s MTF that the venue will be shifted, probably to Greece.
However, Chackal said, 'From a strategic point of view, we are currently reviewing all options of the development of MTF and we will be making an announcement to the trade before the end of this year.'