Arabian Travel Market 2011 welcomed over 2,200 exhibitors from 69 countries during the grand opening today. Covering more than 20,000 square metres of floor space, the event showcases the underlying strength of the regional tourism industry.
Mark Walsh, group exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, set the tone for the upcoming event by reflecting on some of the most impressive milestones of recent times.
“Countries of the Middle East displayed amazing resilience during the economic downturn, as hotel rates, occupancy levels and other indicators continued to reflect a robust regional travel and tourism industry,” he explained.
“With the exception of Libya and Syria, life in other parts of the region is now gradually returning to normal, while destinations such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai actually recorded increased visitor numbers especially in February.”
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Middle East currently receives more than 36 million visitors per year, with this figure set to climb to 69 million tourists by 2020.
An average growth rate of 6.7 per cent even before factoring in the substantial positive impact of Qatar’s successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.
Spotlighting the strength of certain regional destinations, Walsh pointed to the UAE, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
“In the UAE, the number of hotel guests in Dubai grew by 10.7 per cent during 2010, while Abu Dhabi saw visitor growth of 18 per cent in 2010,” continued Walsh.
“Likewise, the Gulf’s most populous nation, Saudi Arabia, is also growing in popularity as a destination for religious, business and cultural tourism, with BMI anticipating growth of 6.7 per cent per year between now and 2014.”
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, ATM 2011, is expecting 22,000 visitors.
The event will be held at the Dubai International Exhibition and Conference Centre until May 5th.
The event includes expert seminars, workshops, along with specialist industry days including travel agents day, careers day and consumer day.