As the Arabian Travel Market 2004, the largest in the annual series of the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism show, entered its second day at the Dubai World Trade Centre, exhibitor plans to expand their presence at next year’s show began to emerge.Ê The Austrian Tourist Board announced it will be returning to te ATM with a bigger presence next year, prompted by an expected increase in business following the launch of the Vienna-Dubai route by Emirates on 1st May.
Dr. Peter Furlinger, who deals with overseas markets for the Austrian National Tourist Office said: “The ATM is a vital platform for us and interest in the region has grown significantly year on year. Our stand space is already up from 35sq mtrs to 50 sq mtrs this year and with the new air links, we expect that to expand even more.”
Speaking on the first day of the show, Dr Furlinger said: “We have been coming to the ATM for 11 years and see a consistent 10% increase year on year in visitors to our stand. The ATM has always been our only activity of this nature in the Middle East, primarily because there is no other show like it in terms of the mix of visitors it attracts, from both the business and the consumer side.”
Tourism from the Middle East has increased considerably since its all-time low two years ago when the Iraqi situation and SARS dented confidence worldwide. “We have already seen an increase of 105% in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year,” said Erika Anna Nowak, market and media manager for Vienna’s tourist office.
Qatar Airways opened its own Vienna-Dubai route in November 2003. Emirates decision to come on board had followed more than five years of negotiations, she said, “but I am absolutely delighted at its decision and we welcome them both. We are particularly looking to promote family holidays at the moment, but believe the new air routes will also open up Middle East tourism into Slovakia and neighbouring countries also. We sold 63,000 overnight stays in Vienna alone last year and are looking for a 20% increase on that this year.”
Emirates flights are currently via Munich, running three times a week, but will be direct and daily from 15th June.Ê
Meanwhile Cypriot tour operator Outbound Travel is also looking to expand its presence next year.
“Before the launch of ATM I found it difficult to network in the Middle East. This show has proved the solution. I have been coming since the show was launched and will be back next year, hopefully with a bigger participation,” said Demetris Argyrou, Administration Manager, Outbound Travel.
And Australia, which this year has a pavilion double the size of its 2003 participation, is looking to expand again for 2005.
“We are targeting Arab families and honeymooners and ATM is vital for this - we’d never miss it,” said Paul Buggy, Manager, International Market Development for Tourism Queensland. “We see it as an emerging market with a lot of untapped potential. We have very high expectations for business across the board at this year’s show. ATM has been very effective in raising the profile of Australia in this region.”
First-time exhibitor, Italian in-bound MICE tour operator, Ovest Detination Italie, said ATM was “amazing” and it would definitely be returning next year. “We heard excellent reports about it from our suppliers and decided it was about time we mounted our own presence,” said Marida Aiello from company head office. “Everything about it is excellent, from the way it’s organised to the type and calibre of visitor it attracts.”Ê
Hotel and resorts concern, Raffles International, is exhibiting for the first time under a corporate banner and is already certain it will be back again next year. “Individual companies have exhibited in the past and such has been their success, we decided to bring the corporate branding in,” said Beatrice Ganter, Director of Marketing Communications. “The Middle East is a very exciting market at the moment in terms of development and we are very hopeful of finding potential partners at the show.”
Over 1,400 exhibitors from 55 countries are taking part in Arabian Travel Market 2004 - now the fastest-growing show in the portfolio of Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), which organises the event. The show is 30% bigger in floor space than last year’s event and though RTE says this year’s growth is “unprecedented” and unlikely to be repeated in scope, further expansion is however on the cards.
“With pavilions such as Austria planning expansion and new markets likely to open up through the launch of new destinations by regional airlines, growth is achievable but will more likely be in the normal range of between 10 and 15 percent,” said Tom Nutley, Chairman, RTE.