ATM returns with ILTM debut
Expo 2020 is undoubtedly driving tourism development in Dubai as the emirate aims to complete 160,000 hotel rooms in time to welcome an additional five million visitors over the course of the event. At the same time, GCC countries are looking towards tourism as a way of diversifying their economies away from their reliance on hydrocarbon receipts.
Taking that into account, it should come as no surprise to see that ATM 2017 is set to be the biggest in the event’s 24-year history. For the second year in succession, we have had to open an additional hall to cope with the increased demand from more than 2,800 exhibiting companies. We have 100 new exhibitors and over 30,000 visitors are expected to attend the four-day show.
The ever-increasing popularity of the event comes as experiential travel continues to trend throughout the industry –with people around the world demonstrating an increasing desire to experience a destination by connecting to its history, people and culture. So, it is perfectly fitting that this year’s Arabian Travel Market has been designed along that theme, with experiential travel integrated across all show verticals and planned activities, seminars and roundtable events.
The opening session on the Global Stage, will look at the role Expo 2020 is playing in delivering the UAE government’s long-term vision for economic diversification with high-level stakeholders taking part, including Marjan Faraidooni, VP Legacy, Impact & Development, Expo 2020 Dubai; Issam Kazim, CEO of DTCM; and Deidre Wells OBE, CEO, UKinbound.
Marketing to experiential travellers will be an integral part of the ATM Travel Tech seminar programme, as participants explore how the industry is embracing technology like never before to compete in a digital marketplace.
While the UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum will see some 20 high level ministers and industry leaders discuss the contribution of tourism to sustainable economic growth and diversification in the Mena region.
New this year is the inaugural Halal Travel Summit, which is taking place on the Global Stage, and will showcase leading Muslim travel industry experts including Rafi-uddin Shikoh, CEO of DinarStandard and Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO of Salam Standard & Tripfez, who will discuss halal destination strategies and how to sell halal travel.
There is also ILTM Arabia, which will play host to one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments between suppliers of luxury products and destinations from around the world to an audience of high net worth individuals. And we have the Wellness and Spa Lounge, which has grown by 40 per cent, and now includes 35 international suppliers and 35 Middle East specialist buyers.
Arabian Travel Market is considered by many industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector and, with the efforts that have gone into developing the content for this year’s showcase, we are confident that we will continue to provide a vital platform for the industry.
• Simon is senior exhibition director at Arabian Travel Market