Marhaba 2024 France Spain sparks interest

Participants at the Marhaba 2024 France and Spain

As many as 129 hosted buyers from all over the GCC had over 3,000 meetings with suppliers over the two-day event.

Migel Sanz, General Director Spain Tourism and President of the European Travel Commission (association of 36 European Countries), spoke at a pre-event briefing and said that France and Spain are at the forefront of the European destinations.

France is the number one in terms of visitor numbers and Spain number one in tourism revenue. The two countries are always neck-and-neck, fighting to be the best in the travel and tourism sector, he said.

France and Spain receive nearly 200 million visitors a year, he said.



Spain tourism has a network of 33 offices around the world, Daniel Rosado, Director of the Spanish Tourism Office for the Middle East, said in an interview with TTN Middle East. “Each have the autonomy to do what is best for their markets, and joining with France last year and this year worked well and enables us to grow bigger. We will continue to analyse and see what we do next year.”

There are a lot of travellers who combine European destinations, especially if they arrive from long-haul destinations. “We are finding that the closer the country, the longer the stays in Spain. The average stay in 2023 was 8.6 days, so we are focusing on longer stays.”

Having the event closer to Arabian Travel Market makes the event more sustainable, and cost-effective for the suppliers, explained Rosado. “We had a number of repeat participants, but we also had eight new suppliers that joined this year such as the Basque Country in the northern part of Spain. We call this region the green part of Spain.

“Although we had Andalucia with us, this time, different regions of Andalucia have come separately like Granada. While Madrid City has participated in the past, Madrid Region also came for the first time. We have also a shopping outlet with us. Balearic Island will come to ATM for the first time. There was a lot more interest too but we had to put a cap on the number of exhibitors.” Rosado said.

“We promote all of Spain as there is so much to offer all year around, but for 2024, we are promoting the Balearic Islands as these islands have a lot of potential for this market.

“We had over ½ million people visiting Spain. The UAE visitors are up 17 per cent and Saudi visitors have doubled so we are very happy,” said Rosado.



The first Marhaba France event was held in 2014, Karim Mekachera, Managing Director, MENA and Turkey for Atout France, told TTN Middle East in an interview. There have been 8 editions of the Marhaba event in the past 10 years, with the last two years in collaboration with Spain.

“We complement each other in terms of destinations and luxury offering. If you want more mainstream, then of course, Arabian Travel Market is a must, but Marhaba allows people to look for more tailormade/bespoke tourism solutions. It also makes sense travel operators to visit us and to optimise their time and meet with the two most successful destination in Europe,” said Mekachera.

One third of the French participants renewed this year with three main destinations represented including Paris, he told TTN. “We have new partners as well such as Couquillade Hotel & Spa in Provence, the Eiffel Tower showcasing The Grand Tour, Exclusive visits of the Eiffel Tower (only sold by direct by Eiffel Tower) (an official booking platform for helicopters and jets) as well as the Centre for National Monuments highlighting the over 100 national monuments/treasures in France. The French Alps are becoming very popular from the Middle East region not only for winter, but summer too.”

Christope Decloux, CEO, Paris Region Tourism Board added that there are still rooms to be booked in Paris for the Olympics but wanted to encourage agents to advise their client to take the opportunity to see more and enjoy Parisian culture. With over 100 events happening this summer, there is much to enjoy in France. One of these celebrations is the 150th anniversary of impressionism, where the Paris Orsay Museum will use virtual reality to take visitors back in time to 1874.