Arabian Travel Market smashes visitor record

The 13th Arabian Travel Market 2006 attracted a record number of trade buyers from 99 countries to the Dubai World Trade CentreThe total numbers at the show are up 10% on last year’s figures to reach an all-time high of nearly 11,674.

ATM 2006 was attended by 974 media - up 29% - with nearly a third travelling from overseas.

The show had 38% more allocated floor space - spanning 22,229 square metres - to accommodate 1,750 exhibitors from 59 countries - including 114 first time participants.

“This augurs well for next year’s show, which will run from May 1 - 4.  With the level of interest already expressed and repeat bookings from exhibitors, next year promises to be even better,” said Chris Chackal, Group Exhibition Director, Overseas Events, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) - organiser of Arabian Travel Market.

Statistics showed significant increases from North and South America, Asia and the Middle East - which accounted for 83.3% of the total number of buyers attending the four day exhibition.


“Trade visitors from the Americas were almost double last year and we believe this indicates new markets opening up for the show,” said Chackal. “Delegates signed in from countries not represented last year - including Andorra, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Macau, Mexico and Zimbabwe.

“We have seen an increase in repeat visits of our Meridian Club members - the top identified buyers attending ATM with the purpose and the authority to source and purchase travel products and services showcased.”

Of the 1,445 Meridian Club members attending ATM 2006, approximately a third returned for business three days in a row.

“Their return visits to the show emphasise the amount of business generated and the range and quality of exhibitors at Arabian Travel Market,” said Chackal.

Meridian Club member Siobhan Byrne, from luxury travel company Adams & Butler, from Ireland, highlighted the quality aspect of the event.

“Back in Dublin, I had four enquiries for Cambodia and Laos that I was unable to service - until I came to this year’s ATM, where I met a destination management company (DMC) that can handle these enquiries.

“In addition we were specifically looking to identify DMCs in Lebanon, Jordan and Libya - a requirement which we successfully met. A Moroccan Tourist Board official is now helping us to raise the awareness of Morocco in Ireland and is putting us in touch with suppliers to compile tours - to meet a more culturally sophisticated market in Ireland.

“ATM attracts such a breadth of Middle Eastern and North African tourism products that you do not have access to elsewhere.  I shall definitely return,” she said.

The show housed 50 official tourism organisations including first timers Japan, Ireland, Russia and Poland.

Paul O’Neill, Manager Ground Handling of CIE Tours International, who participated on first-time exhibitor Ireland’s stand, said the event reported brisk business on the first day.

“I took a booking for 40 golfers from Dubai on a corporate trip for later this year within hours of the show opening.  ATM presents business opportunities to build interest in Ireland’s budding tourism industry - most notably the golf excursions sector, particularly with Aer Lingus direct flights to Dublin from Dubai.”

First time exhibitor Japan has vowed to return to next year’s Arabian Travel Market taking a whole pavilion.

“We have seen phenomenal interest in Japan with a large number of high level management and key decision makers visiting our stand,” said Yosuke Okazaki, Director Planning and Project, Japan Co-operation Centre for the Middle East.

“Due to the fantastic response we plan to return next year, expanding our stand to a pavilion, to accommodate Japanese tour operators and hotels that have expressed interest in exhibiting.”

Visit Sami, from northern Norway, also participating at ATM for the first time, signed a US$ 125,000 deal on the show’s second day.

“We have been extremely happy with the business done and the response received.  We signed the deal on our comparatively small six square metre stand and have already booked space for ATM 2007 - tripling our stand area,” said Risten Lango, Manager of Visit Sami.

From South Africa, Carol Volkwyn, Area Manager Marketing and Sales of the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve near Johannesburg, echoed the response factor.

“For me, generating interest is paramount.  I came with the intention to target the Middle East market but I’ve had enquiries from Greek, UK, Italian and even Brazilian travel operators - which was unexpected.”

Exhibitor Owen Yau, President of Travel Asia Ltd., Hong Kong, said “ATM is second to none for collating information and learning who is doing what in their respective business sectors.  Although we are firmly established in the travel industry, I need this event to keep one step ahead of the competition.”

Radwan Alwan, Director of Zahhar Travel and Tourism in Damascus, Syria, said this year’s event was the best of the last three in which he had participated.

“Within the first two days we had 150 meetings with inbound and outbound tour operators and wholesalers and struck a number of business deals.”

For exhibitor Katarina Dvorakova, Director of Sales, CEO, Orea Hotels based in the Czech Republic, business from the region was brisk.

“From the first day I had potential business from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait and the UAE - the exact countries we had targeted before we arrived in Dubai,” she said.

Dubai-based Alpha Tours Sales Manager, Imad Iridi, was surprised at the number of visitors at his stand from Europe and the Americas.

“Although this is the Arabian Travel Market - the huge number of visitors and exhibitors from Europe and the Americas, results in endless potential for new business avenues.  I have signed a deal to bring a horse riding programme to our current listing of day trips for the ever-growing and demanding tourism market,” he said.

Swiss exhibitor Harry John, President of Montreux-Vevey Tourisme, believes the company’s annual participation contributes to achieving the high number of bed nights.

“This is the GCC travel and tourism show,” he said.  “The booming tourism industry in the region is reflected by the increasing number of visitors and exhibitors.  We receive 300,000 overnights annually from the Gulf - a number that has doubled over the last five years. I truly believe ATM is a key contributor to this statistic and highlights the benefits to prospective buyers.”

Trade visitors, too, reported expanding business opportunities and brokered deals within international markets - some visitors vowing to return to ATM 2007 as exhibitors.

Floriana Stoica, of Dubai-based inbound tour operator Dream Adventure Tourism, deals primarily with CIS countries, Europe and Africa.  “I was here for just one day and signed five contracts in as many hours,” she said.

Michel Furaud, of Voyages Strategie, from Paris, France, said: “I have not been here for three years and have already confirmed business for after the show.”

“The main aspect of ATM that I feel continues to serve it best, is the quality of the buyers.”

Netherlands-based Albert Stienssen, Managing Director of Mekers Vakanties, reported business deals in new markets.

“We have completed market breakthrough deals in South Korea and Cyprus that highlight the scope of the international opportunities at this event,” he said.

Trade visitor Odina Bileanu, of Musandam Sea Adventure Tourism, Oman, was impressed with the overall exhibition.  “We will definitely be back next year - most probably as exhibitors,” she said.

Many of the exhibitors and trade visitors attended this year’s expanded free-to-attend seminar programme that covered diverse hot topics relevant to a wide interest within the travel and tourism industry.

The show was opened by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who toured the show for a few hours, accompanied by a VVIP entourage.

Arabian Travel Market 2006 was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and under the auspices of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. 

“This has been our most successful show in Arabian Travel Market’s history,” said Lucie Dawkins, ATM Marketing Manager.  “And with 86% of this year’s floor space already re-booked for ATM 2007, we are on course for another record-breaking event.”