The ongoing effects of the Eurozone crisis has prompted popular Mediterranean destinations to target growth opportunities in the GCC markets at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) which reports a sell-out show ahead of next month’s 20th anniversary event.
The latest statistics from ATM organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions, reveal that demand from new exhibitors at ATM, which takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre on May 6th-9th 2013, has pushed show floor space to a record of over 22,000 square metres (sqm), a six per cent increase over last year.
In addition there are 27 more exhibition stands than last year, up seven per cent and an impressive 98 new companies covering over 2,160 sqm that will be exhibiting.
In terms of vertical sectors, technology continued to grow again this year up 34 per cent to 1,700 sqm as the digital industry trends gather pace.
Geographically two of the best performing regions were Europe and North Africa.
Each region has grown by 20 per cent and 36 per cent respectively to cover almost 4,000 sqm combined, or 18 per cent of the total exhibition space available, as hotels and resorts on the Mediterranean coast in particular, look for a larger share of the GCC outbound market.
“Exhibitor demand from countries on the Mediterranean coast, have been particularly strong this year as the tourism industries in Turkey, Morocco and Egypt turn their attention to the outbound GCC market,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“GCC travelers with their high disposable income levels are naturally a key target market for Mediterranean destinations, but with traditional Western European source markets facing tough economic challenges, which could cause tourism receipts to decline, the relevance of the GCC markets becomes even more pronounced,” he added.
According to the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism office in Dubai, the number of tourists travelling to Turkey from the GCC region has increased significantly in the past few years, with over 370 per cent growth from the UAE, 331 per cent for Kuwait and almost 600 per cent from Qatar for the period to August 2012 versus 2011.
Turkey has taken an additional 25 per cent of exhibition floor space this year, with first-time exhibitors including two regional tourism bodies - the Bursa Eskişehir Bilecik Development Agency and Dogu Karadeniz Illeri Hizmet ve Kalkinma Birligi.
Turkey’s appeal lies not only in its cultural blend of East meets West but its accessibility, with Turkish Airlines alone connected to over 30 Gulf and Middle East destinations, enhanced by a competitive fare strategy.
“In addition, the familiarity of recognised brands, such as Jumeirah, Rotana and The Address, which understand the requirements of the Middle East market, are attracting both national and expatriate travelers from the GCC into Turkey,” said Walsh.
Morocco is also looking to the region to further develop inbound potential, with the Gulf already accounting for 30 per cent of annual visitor traffic.
National carrier Royal Air Maroc is also reportedly eager to pursue a strategic partnership with a regional airline, through a minority stake purchase, thereby allowing it to expand its reach into new profitable territories.
Following a GCC tour by Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI in late 2012, the country signed a five-year strategic investment partnership valued at US$5 billion with the Gulf states.
Egypt is placing similar emphasis on attracting Gulf-based travellers to its shores.
According to tourism minister, Hisham Zaazou, Egypt is committed to restoring consumer confidence and hoping to achieve pre-2010 tourism levels by the end of 2013.
With direct routes to Spain, Italy, France, Cyprus, Greece and Tunisia, the region’s airlines are also making the Mediterranean resorts more accessible. Other new exhibitors at ATM include the Monaco Government Tourism Bureau, Libya and Turismo de Portugal.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and set to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.