Mark Walsh

Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director of Reed Travel Exhibition, in an interview with Travel and Tour World has mentioned some of the unique events that ATM is going to showcase for the first time. He is further hopeful and says luxury is clearly a trend that will command increased attention not only this time at ATM but also in years to come.

Travel And Tour World – What do you expect to be the major trend at ATM this year?

Mark Walsh : We have identified several trends that will feature both in exhibitor discussions and as part of our 2014 seminar programme.
Premium (luxury) travel and hospitality is one such trend and this is covered in detail in response to question 8 below.
At the other end of the spectrum we see ongoing interest and discussions around the opportunities in the mid-market tourism category, from accommodation to activities. For Dubai as a destination to broaden its appeal, it must introduce a mid-range tier of accommodation and with the government already looking at offering incentives for investors to do so, it is set to become increasingly important segment in the coming years.

The growth of home-grown brands is the third trend that we have identified.Home-grown hotel brands from across the Middle East will have a significant presence at this year’s ATM. The creation and growth of stand-alone independent local brands is a major trend, providing owners with an added or alternative point of distinction and an additional competitive edge.

Another interesting phenomenon is the way that some of the more established home-grown hotel brands from the Middle East are not only on the rise throughout the region, but are also expanding into other markets, predominantly in Europe and Asia, such as Dubai’s Jumeirah Group.

Exhibiting at ATM is a popular choice for independent local brands, first of all it is a great networking platform for them and a cost-effective way to create brand awareness to over 21,000 industry professionals. They can showcase their brand attributes face-to-face with specific industry stakeholders as well as identifying opportunities to export their brand into new locations and markets.

Representing the region this year we have established independent hospitality brands such as Emaar Hospitality, Jumeirah, Rotana, Hospitality Management Holdings (the owner of the Coral brand),Address, TI’ME and JA.





Travel And Tour World – What can visitors and exhibitors expect from ATM?

Mark Walsh : ATM is an annual industry event and we need to constantly innovate and redefine our line-up in order to stay relevant and to offer both exhibitors and visitors a 360-degree experience.

This year will see some exciting new additions to the four-day agenda including the launch of the first of our specialised annual themes, which for 2014 will be a dedicated ‘Spotlight on Luxury’, which holds particular relevance for the region.

This will encompass several luxury-specific seminars as well as hosted buyers representing this valuable market segment plus high-end exhibitors including well-known hospitality brands like Anantara Resorts & Spas, Mandarin Oriental, Kerzner International, Fairmont Hotel & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Swissotel Hotels & Resorts, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, Oberoi Resorts & Resorts, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts and The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company; along with luxury destinations such as Monaco, Mauritius, Maldives and the Seychelles.

We will also be debuting the Exhibitor Showcase Theatre. Located in the middle of the action on the show floor it offers a limited number of exhibitors a 60-minute slot during which they have the opportunity to present their products and services.

We also have a calendar of more than 40 wide-ranging seminar and tech theatre sessions planned for ATM 2014 with topics covering the preservation of cultural tourism, rising demand for wellness tourism and the ‘greening’ of the tourism industry. Also for the first time Visa will unveil their first annual Middle East affluence report at the show.

As always, we will welcome some of the region’s most influential business leaders as speakers including Adel Ali, CEO of Air Arabia; Ivan Jakovljevic, Head of Travel, Middle East and North Africa, Google; and Mohammed Al Dhaheri, Strategy & Policy Director, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.

Finally, the popular Exhibition Trails will continue again this year covering shopping, careers, budget travel, health and wellness, air travel and water-based tourism.




Travel And Tour World – How many people are expected to attend this year and how many exhibitors have signed up compared to last year’s show?

Mark Walsh : This year Arabian Travel Market has grown from 22,000 square metres of exhibition space to 23,500 square metres, including an extra hall, and this represents a total 7% growth over the 2013 event. Over 21,000 trade visitors are expected to attend.

The 2014 event has also increased by 10% in the number of main standholders representing well over 2,500 companies and we will welcome over 120 new exhibitors. The latest statistics reveal rising demand from Travel Technology companies up 14%, Middle East and UAE exhibitors up 11%, and Asia and Hotels rising by 7% and 5% respectively.

In addition we have a total of seven national pavilions, including the cruise pavilion which has grown a staggering 103% in size since 2013, predominantly due to Cruise Arabia coming on board. Cruise Arabia is a collaborative initiative, formed by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism.

There are also several new destinations that we are welcoming for the first time, including Taiwan, the Caribbean and Slovenia. We are also welcoming the Kyoto Convention Bureau, Jammu, Kashmir, The Muriya Tourism Development in Oman, Kish Island Free Zone, Kuwait Airways and IMG World of Adventures.



Travel And Tour World – Who are the major buyers at ATM this year?

Mark Walsh : We will be bringing up to 120 buyers to Arabian Travel Market this year. They will be made up of buyers from all the different geographical markets around the world with a large proportion of them coming from the GCC and wider Middle East region. In terms of the types of buyers, there will be buyers from the luxury, cruise, and medical and wider leisure markets.

We focus each year on bringing a good cross selection of buyers on the programme ranging from the smaller firms all the way up to the larger companies such as American Express, Kuoni, Abercrombie & Kent and Carlson Wagonlit, all of whom have confirmed their attendance on the programme for 2014.




Travel And Tour World – Is there anything particular and big thing in offing?

Mark Walsh : Premium (luxury) travel and hospitality will be the focus of a new sub-theme at ATM 2014 with the launch of our ‘Spotlight on Luxury’ feature. We will bring together luxury brand exhibitors, targeted luxury buyers and visitors along with a number of special seminar sessions exploring the high value market segment for both inbound and outbound travellers.

Hosted buyers representing the luxury segment will also be present at this year’s event, along with a collection of renowned luxury hospitality brands, Anantara Resorts & Spas, Mandarin Oriental, Kerzner International, Fairmont Hotel & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Swissotel Hotels & Resorts, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, Oberoi Resorts & Resorts, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company as well as The Meritage Collection and The Resort at Pelican Hill in the US; along with luxury destinations such as Monaco, Mauritius, Maldives and the Seychelles.

We will also be holding several luxury-themed seminars, which will examine key opportunities in the global luxury travel arena and what this means for tourism in the Gulf.
Also new this year is the showcase theatre, which offers exhibitors the opportunity to present their products and services at dedicated 30 minute sessions, and the ATM Live Wall, which will broadcast live streaming of interviews, panel debates and other show highlights.




Travel And Tour World – How does ATM measure against other travel marts organized by Reed Travel Exhibitions throughout the year?

Mark Walsh : Reed Travel Exhibitions organise 21 events across all continents grouped into 4 distinct portfolios: Leisure, Meetings & Incentives, Specialist (Sports) and Luxury. Within each portfolio, each individual event has a very specific visitor and exhibitor audience it serves be it geographical or sector driven, or both. Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now in its 21st year, was launched on the success of sister event World Travel Market (WTM), which takes place each November in London. Also in the leisure portfolio is WTM Latin America, currently taking place in Brazil and new launch WTM Africa taking place in South Africa the week before ATM. All 4 leisure shows support and drive each other to ensure they continue to meet exhibitor and visitor objectives going forward and remain market leaders in their individual fields.



Travel And Tour World – What are the upcoming luxury travel trends that you are forecasting?

Mark Walsh : If you look at the region there can be few places on earth that have such a concentration of luxury five-star hotels as well as access to a luxury lifestyle. According to a 2012 Credit Suisse report, the number of millionaires in the UAE is set to grow by 12% by 2017, reaching 48,000 individuals. GCC nationals also spend 260% more on airfares against other nationalities, with between 40-60% booking business class travel, and also spending 430% more on accommodation and 558% more on dining.

Luxury tourism, both inbound and outbound, is also heavily allied with high-end retail and a UK tourism report published by transaction company Global Blue noted that Middle East travellers made up 26% of the total spend by international visitors between January and July 2013, with a focus on luxury goods.

Luxury retail in the UAE is valued at around US$6 billion per annum, according to a Q4 2013 report from upscale regional retailer The Chalhoub Group, with Dubai boasting 82% of the world’s leading luxury brands, and an enviable position as the number one global city targeted by retailers in 2011, ahead of London, Paris and New York.
Luxury is therefore clearly a trend that will command increased attention both on the show floor and in the seminar sessions.




Travel And Tour World – How effective are the well-appointed airport lounges in attracting more passengers and ensuring quality services and comfort for them?

Mark Walsh : Of course several airlines run their own top class lounges at Munich Airport. Flughafen München GmbH, which operates Munich Airport, also offers exclusive service in three lounges: ATLANTIC, EUROPE and the VIP-WING. VIP-WING, which opened in the summer of 2011, is the largest of our lounges: Situated in the southern wing of Terminal 1, the bright, spacious rooms in the new lounge have a total area of 1,200 square meters (13,000 square feet), and combine a cosmopolitan feel with Bavarian local color. Facilities available to guests include suites, conference and working rooms, wireless LAN, rest areas, showers, an extensive collection of international newspapers and magazines, a non-denominational prayer room and a separate smoking area.



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