Emaar leads celebrations at ATM

Emaar leads celebrations at ATM

Winners from the World Travel Awards 2010 Middle East Ceremony proudly showed off their trophies at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, as industry leaders gathered for the second day of the region’s biggest travel show.

Among those celebrating were Dubai-based property developer Emaar, which took home the award for the Middle East’s Leading Tourism Property Development Company, plus a further three awards for its The Address brand.

Pictured: Patrick Heuze, chief operating officer of Emaar, with chief executive Marc Dardenne and Amit Arora, vice president sales and marketing, with their World Travel Awards

The Middle East round of the Awards was hosted by The Address Dubai Marina – part of the Emaar network – which itself walked away with the trophy for Dubai’s Leading Meetings & Conference Hotel.

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Sam Cooray with The Address World Travel Awards

The Address also celebrated a number of other awards, with The Address Montgomerie Dubai taking the award for Middle East’s Leading Golf Course alongside The Address Downtown Dubai, which won the award for Dubai’s Leading City Hotel.

The Address Dubai Mall also beat a strong field to win the coveted award for Dubai’s Leading Lifestyle Hotel.

From Saudi Arabia, Hussein Ali Hatata was today at Arabian Travel Market to celebrate the success of the Al Shohada Hotel. The AKMC property scooped the award for Makkah’s Leading Hotel.

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Hussein Ali Hatata, vice president of AKMC, Saudi Arabia

But that was not the end of the real estate company’s success, with AKMC chairman HH Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Khalid earlier winning the award for ‘Middle East’s Leading Personality of the Year’ award.

Hundreds of other buoyant attendees have been taking in the second day of the show, with respected sources arguing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) tourism sector could now lead the global industry out of recession.

With the number of delegates also up on last year, event organisers are beginning to suggest the event could mark the turning point for the regional economy.

Among the thousands of delegates in attendance were representatives from Euromonitor International, who were presenting their latest report on the MENA region.

The market intelligence firm argue the sector could record growth of over four per cent for 2010, with pre-recession levels of growth expected by 2012.

“In the MENA region last year there was a six per cent reduction in wealth, which proved to be a shock to the system,” explained Caroline Bremner, global travel and tourism manager of Euromonitor.

“However, while global travel figures showed a reduction of five per cent, the MENA region experienced a rise of two per cent.”

An emphasis on diversity and a strategy of liberalisation will be key to growing the Middle East’s overall tourism proposition, added Ms Bremner, while a burgeoning low cost airlines sector can only assist further.

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Six Senses sales and market director, Middle East and Europe, Helen van Wengen celebrating the group’s victory in the Middle East’s Leading Luxury Beach Resort category at the World Travel Awards with the Hideaway Zighy Bay property

International Delegation

The feeling of optimism has also been boosted by the returning crowds at the event. While overall numbers are up by just one per cent, so called quality visitors – those with purchasing power – are up by three per cent against last year.

VIP numbers – including dignities and ministers – also swelled by 12 per cent when compared to 2009, in what organisers argue is a clear sign of a recovery in the Middle Eastern tourism sector.

“I think the most promising element to take out of these numbers is that there is a strong desire by the industry as a whole to actively seek out opportunities to increase business revenue streams, discuss and debate our future growth steps and continue to forge ahead despite any challenges they may face,” explained Mark Walsh, at event organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions.

An improved seminar programme is also on offer at the event this year, while guests will be offered a relaxed networking opportunity at the new Zone 8 facility.

With days dedicated to careers (May 6th) and travel agents (May 7th) also on the horizon, there is still plenty to attract delegates to the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Hindsight

Attendees are also beginning to put the events of the last two years in perspective, with experts now looking at the downturn in the Middle East hotel sector as an adjustment, rather than a market crash.

According to Bradley Holliday, senior manager with Deloitte Middle East, the global downturn happened at the same time a new supply of hotel accommodation came on stream, with basic laws of supply and demand now cited as the principle reason for the market adjusting so violently.

“The forecast for the coming year is good,” he added.

“Airline arrivals in the region are showing positive growth of around 15 per cent, tourist arrivals are showing growth of between five and nine percent, GDP in the region is forecast to grow by 4.5 per cent and the signs for 2010 are excellent.”

Putting all this into context, Mr Holliday said from 2007 the Middle Eastern market started showing a decrease in growth, but not nearly as much as across the rest of the world.

“The region still showed a 1.3 per cent growth in GDP after exceptional growth the previous year; but occupancy fell from around 68 per cent to 61 per cent during 2009 – a reflection of a fall in GDP levels around the world in the region’s feeder markets.”