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Published on : Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Following the success of last year’s spotlight theme, which was family travel, the focus for the 23rd edition is on mid-market tourism – a key area of opportunity for Middle East destinations looking to diversify their source markets and attract a larger volume of visitors.
“As tourism infrastructure across the Gulf and beyond continues on its high profile development path, our spotlight theme for 2016 has turned to mid-market tourism,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market. “This has been identified as both an underdeveloped and potential growth area for the region, driven by demand from the growing middle class markets such as China, India and Africa combined with budget Generation Y travellers and young families.”
A key point of discussion will be the number of new hotel rooms entering the market, including the share that is planned to be in the four- and three-star classification. According to the January Pipeline Report from STR Global, there are 538 hotels totaling 151,771 rooms under contract in the Middle East and 321 hotels totaling 62,194 rooms under contract in Africa. Makkah, Saudi Arabia, reported the largest number of rooms under construction with 21,068 rooms in 13 hotels. Three other markets reported more than 5,000 rooms under construction: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (19,846 rooms in 63 hotels); Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (6,738 rooms in 30 hotels); and Doha, Qatar (5,980 rooms in 26 hotels). In Dubai, for instance, Dubai currently has a total hotel key count of approximately 94,000 and this figure is set to rise to between 140,000 and 160,000 keys by 2020 with around 20% set to target the mid-market hotel sector. According to a recent Knight Frank report.
Midmarket focused seminars include the opening session, Dubai of the Future, taking place on 25 April from 13:00 – 14:30 on the new ATM Global Stage. Panelists including Gerald Lawless, Head of Tourism, Dubai Holding will pinpoint the source markets Dubai should be targeting including midmarket travellers, families, young independent travellers and couples, as well as the high-growth-potential BRIC countries in order to evolve over the next two decades.
The mid-market strategies session, taking place on 26 April from 13:15 – 14:15, also on the ATM Global Stage, is designed specifically to identify who the midmarket traveller is, where they come from and what they want. Confirmed panelists include, Dr. Amine Moukarzel, President of Louvre Hotels Group MENA, Hilton Worldwide.
An additional exhibition hall has been added this year to cater to rising demand. ATM 2016 will welcome over 400 main stand holders and over 2,800 exhibiting companies with more than 26,000 visitors expected. Over 80 countries will be represented by exhibitors and over 150 countries will be represented by pre-registered visitors. A total of over 100 exhibitors are new this year and there are over 60 country pavilions.
Other new features at this year’s event include the Wellness & Spa Lounge, a dedicated space for 25 exhibitors designed to connect Middle East wellness and spa buyers with international suppliers in a series of exclusive pre-scheduled appointments on 26 and 27 April. There will also be a series on seminars taking place in the Showcase Theatre.
There’s also a valuable new networking feature for exhibitors and travel bloggers. The ATM Bloggers’ Speed Networking will provide an opportunity for up to 40 travel bloggers to take part in mini-meetings with exhibitors to explore ways to work together in the future. Bloggers will be grouped by geography and by travel sector such as luxury travel, family travel, food and more. The event will take place on Thursday 28th April from 10am to 11am in Hall 8.The Travel Agent Academy will take place on the final day of the exhibition.
Other highlights this year include the popular Travel Tech Show at ATM.
“The region has seen phenomenal growth in online engagement in the last two years, transitioning from a traditional face-to-face booking model to a new virtual reality where 24/7 updated information is a basic expectation and speed of access is essential when it comes to planning, researching and booking,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers. “Airlines and hotels are the acknowledged market leaders when it comes to highly effective online marketing and consumer engagement. This is an area where all industry players need to ensure that they look at increasing market share and awareness through a blend of creative messaging, teamed with ongoing technology investment, especially when it comes to mobile applications.”
All of this is complemented by over 50 wide-ranging seminar and tech theatre sessions with topics covering mid-market travel, luxury, aviation, technology trends, spa and wellness tourism, business, adventure and halal tourism. Responsible tourism is also a key focus and will headline several seminar theatre sessions with exhibitors including The Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, Namibia Tourism Board, Gray Line and FHRI Hotels & Resorts, tour operators, airlines and other industry sub-sectors focusing additional resources on exploring new opportunities in this area.
Popular annual features include the easy-to-follow exhibition trails covering mid-market travel, halal tourism, business travel, health & wellbeing, shopping, transportation, cultural and heritage and adventure travel.
There’s also the high profile New Frontiers Recovery Awards, which recognises the efforts of those nations that have suffered devastating economic and human losses in the last 12 months, as a result of natural disasters. This year’s shortlist includes Taiwan, Philippines and Nepal.
Also on the agenda is the prestigious ATM Leaders Breakfast that will welcome 100 heads of private sector travel organisations to this exclusive by invitation only event. The breakfast will be hosted in Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai on Wednesday 27 April.
Following the success of its inauguration in 2015, the ATM Best Stand Awards are back for a second innings and will see a line-up of top judges and visitors to the annual industry event acknowledge the design creativity and positioning of exhibiting companies’ physical presence at the annual showcase.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.