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ATM celebrates silver success
April 2018 6384

Show to focus on responsible tourism

Truly a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22 to 25, ATM 2018 will feature exhibitors from all sectors of the industry: airlines, hotels, DMCs, tour operators, wellness services, travel technology and more.

This year, there are 68 main hotel stand exhibitors, including eight new brands,

over an area of more than 5,000 sqm, in addition to over 100 Middle East hotels featured alongside their respective national tourism organisations.

The largest stands will feature A.A.Al Moosa Enterprises UAE, owners of hotels operated by Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Taj and Wyndham; Intercontinental Hotel Group; and the Middle East’s newest hotel group, Roda Hotels. They will operate stands covering 185sqm, 120sqm and 100sqm, respectively.

Celebrating its 25th edition in 2018, ATM will also welcome some of the brands that were present at the first show, back in 1994. Including Abjar Hotels International, Abu Dhabi National Hotels Forte Group, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Marriott International, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Taj Hotels.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, says: “ATM 2018 has adopted responsible tourism – including sustainable travel trends - as its main theme. In celebrations of its 25th year, this year’s show will host a series of seminar sessions looking back on the tourism revolution in the Mena region over the last quarter of a century, while exploring how the industry will shape up over the next 25 years, in light of geopolitical tensions, economic uncertainties, huge technological advances and, of course, the increasing trend of responsible tourism.”

New this year to ATM is the inaugural International Hotel Investment Conference (IHIF) at ATM, which will take place on the Global Stage, and will discuss what drives investment in travel destinations across the Middle East and neighbouring regions, with particular focus placed on, who is investing, what assets they are looking for, and what destinations can do to attract investment.

“Also new for 2018 is the inaugural ATM Student Conference – a programme aimed at students and graduates who are looking to pursue a career in the travel and tourism industry.

“ILTM Arabia will also be returning, playing host to one-on-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, the Buyer’s Club and Digital Influencer Speed Networking too,” says Press.

ATM welcomed more than 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than $2.5 billion over the four days.

Data from STR says the total pipeline of rooms in the GCC currently stands at 152,551 across 518 properties. The leading contributors are the UAE with 73,981 rooms in the pipeline; Saudi Arabia with 64,015; and Oman with 8,823. In percentage terms the largest increase on existing stock will be seen in Saudi Arabia, which is on track to witness 123.7 per cent growth.

In terms of market growth, research published by Colliers International ahead of ATM indicates the hospitality market in Saudi Arabia will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.5 per cent to 2022, ahead of that of the UAE (10.1 per cent) and Oman (11.8 per cent).

Research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reiterates that Saudi Arabia is growing at a much faster rate than the wider economy. The total contribution of travel & tourism to the Saudi economy in 2017 was SR240.9 billion, once all the direct, indirect and induced benefits were taken into account. This represented an annual rise of 4.6 per cent against GDP growth of 1 per cent for the wider economy.

This shows the Saudi economy is particularly well placed to benefit from travel and tourism as part of the diversification of the economy under the Saudi Arabia Vision for 2030. By 2028, over 1.5 million jobs in Saudi Arabia are forecast to be dependent on travel and tourism, reported WTTC.

Paula De Keijzer, senior director of market management for Middle East, Africa, Greece & Turkey, the Expedia group, told TTN, “We are seeing increasing interest from travellers to destinations in Egypt outside Cairo, particularly in popular tourist spots like Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh. Recent company data shows that package demand is also doing well in these regions, with almost 45 per cent of Hurghada and 40 per cent of Sharm el Sheikh business coming from packages. Package customers are important for hoteliers because they tend to book further in advance, stay for longer and have a lower cancellation rate.”

“Like in the UAE, travellers from the US and UK topped the list for international demand into both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in Q4 2017. The data also shows that these countries saw a strong growth in mobile demand from travellers from these countries. Lebanon saw an increase in mobile demand of close to 90 per cent from US travellers compared with the same period last year, while Saudi Arabia saw a year on year increase in mobile demand of approximately 85 per cent from British and American travellers respectively. Hoteliers in these destinations that are adapting their strategy to ensure the smoothest possible customer experience on mobile will continue to thrive.”

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