Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the largest travel and tourism exhibition in the region has set new records in its 11 year history. The exhibition was spread over 11,800 metres and there were over 1,400 exhibitors from over 55 countries. For the first time Abu Dhabi and Iran exhibited at the show. The exhibition served as a platform for several new project developments and announcements. According to Tom Nutley, Chairman, Reed Travel Exhibitions, ATM has witnessed a 38% growth compared to last year. He attributes this partly to the world tensions that prevented the show from growing last year.
The growth can also be attributed to the major development within the Dubai’s infrastructure. Dubai really does seem well on its way to achieve the 15 million target by 2010. The city is booming and ATM proved that, with announcements of many hotel openings and airlines expansions. Etihad Airways, the new national airline of the United Arab Emirates also exhibited at the show.
ATM serves as a meeting arena for travel professionals to gather and share ideas. This year’s conference was chosen as the platform to display several new innovative and ambitious projects, which although still in their developmental stages, seem set to go ahead. Seeing really is believing with these impressive concepts ranging from The World and The Palm to Dubailand.
The announcement of the phenomenal $5.7 million Dubailand project, which is 78% finalised, caused quite a stir at the show. This incredible project looks set to become the world’s biggest tourism, entertainment and development project, which could have the potential to multiply tourism growth to the entire region. Marwa Al Aifa, Co-ordinator, Business Development, Dubailand commented: “The ATM has been very helpful for creating awareness for the Dubailand experience. We have met some potential investors for the Middle Ease and are building a network.”
Another dream which is fast becoming reality is The World. This project invites you to invest in a private Island of your own. Three hundred Islands that have been created in the shape of the world are now up for sale. This follows in the footsteps of The Palm, ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. The Palm involves the creation of the World’s largest two man-made islands known as The Palm, Jumeirah and The Palm, Jebel Ali. Located just off the coast of Dubai. The two palm tree shaped islands are expected to contribute to the city’s position as a premier global tourist destination.
Al Ain was launched as a new destination at this year’s ATM. This destination known as the Garden City offers a historic, cultural and sporting destination. Abdullah A. Al Falasi, Head of Promotions Section, Tourist Promotion Department, Al Ain, commented: “After eleven years of ATM, the show is growing very fast. The timing of ATM has been very good as it is just before summer. This is a great time to launch our product and to be here with our partners from the U.A.E.. We have generated a lot of interest.
Hilton International announced a major expansion initiative that will see 10 new property openings in the Middle East, with another 50 openings planned around the world. Avsor Koc, Director of International Sales U.A.E., Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman, Hilton commented: “For us ATM is one of the best platforms to kick off the summer activities. Compared to previous years, this is one of the best shows.”
Christine Cheong, Marketing Communications Manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai
commented: “The amount of announcements that have been broken this year has been phenomenal in such a short space of time, with so many hotel openings and airline expansions. The Middle East is going full-steam ahead.”
M. Naeem Darkazally, Regional Sales Director Middle East, Le Meridien
commented: “This year’s ATM is bigger than the previous year’s with more international participants. ATM is a unique event for both internationally and locally for Le Meridien. I believe that the coming season will see the Middle East flourish.”
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
made their presence felt at ATM with announcements of new hotel openings in Doha and in Cairo. Both of these properties will be opening in late 2004.
Simon Casson, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel - Doha commented “Once again we are proud to be at ATM. We are opening a hotel in Doha. There is a high level of interest and everyone is talking about the destination. We are fortunate to be building a world class hotel with a great investment. Next year at ATM we will be here with an open hotel and ready to take your bookings.” He added “Doha is an emerging market and an exciting place to be. There is somewhat of a halo effect that comes from Dubai and benefits everyone in the region.”
Olivier Masson, General Manager Four Seasons Hotel, Cairo, commented: “The show is great. About 50% of our business comes from the gulf so it is very important for us - mixing with old friends, making new ones. We are opening the hotel in a couple of weeks. Cairo is a booming city. The show has been really good. This is a much better location and we have more regional partners here.”
Among the increased level of European participants were Holiday Autos, Swiss and Eurostar.
Nazar, Musa, Managing Director International Division, Holiday Autos
, commented: “The show has been really good. This is the best location yet. We have met our regional partners here and this year we have done some new business here. Since our acquisition by lastminute.com we are investigating inbound tourism into the region.
Travel to the Middle East has changed since 2001. Previously selling business from the US, now there is a lot of regional and European business.”
Following their recent announcement of a new CEO appointment, Swiss
were exhibiting at ATM.
Felix Rodel, Area Manager of the Middle East, Pakistan & Iran, Swiss, commented: “I can see an improvement between ATM last year and now. We have had much better access to customers moving back and forth, There has been a lot more interest expressed this year for travel to Europe”.
Alain Van West, Director of Marketing, Eurostar
commented: “We have been impressed with the quality of the analyst conferences this year, which have painted a good picture of the Middle Eastern market. The quality of people who came to our stand has been a real eye-opener”