Arabian Travel Market 2009 the Middle East’s premier travel and tourism event - ended today with senior industry figures predicting the region would defy current global economic conditions to buck world-wide trends and international downturns in travel to record solid growth.International and intra-regional hotel operators, airlines, car rental companies and government delegations all used Arabian Travel Market as a platform to announce new initiatives and projects, as well as promote enhanced inbound and outbound tourism products, to the buoyant Middle East sector.
Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, FlyDubai - the emirate’s first low cost airline which launches on June 1st 2009 - said: “Arabian Travel Market is a very exciting show and it always reflects the temperaments of the current business environment. It’s nice to see such a positive atmosphere during the show and it is great to see all these people committed to the United Arab Emirates. Being here gives us a reality check and now we can see business will be very good.”
The sentiment was echoed by Emirates airline’s Divisional Senior Vice President - Corporate Communications,
Boutros Boutros, who added: “This year, for Emirates airline, we did some serious business at the show. It is difficult to compare to last year’s show as we are now in a different environment, although business has exceeded our expectations. Our stands have been utilised by serious business visitors and we have received a positive amount of enquiries.”
Emirates, the show’s official carrier, used the four-day event to announce Marriott International had been appointed the hotel operator for its AED 1.8bn Park Towers - a 1,614-room twin-tower hotel and apartment property which the Dubai-based carrier is currently constructing on Sheikh Zayed Road, adjacent to the emirate’s premier Business Bay district.
Officials from Qatar Airways - which is launching six additional routes in 2009 and receiving new aircraft on an average of one per month - were also upbeat about this year’s show.
“The Arabian Travel Market is without a doubt one of the Middle East’s most high profile travel and tourism events. The quality of participants and visitors is consistently high. This year the event has enabled us to successfully raise awareness of our quality product offering and additional routes,” said Rached Arfaoui, District Sales Manager, Qatar Airways.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, one of more than 150 hotel operators at the show, praised the event’s role in facilitating enhanced business interaction in a one stop setting.
“In the midst of a softening market and weakened demand, the quality and number of visitors to Arabian Travel Market continues to be high, which reinforces the event’s reputation as the Middle East’s foremost travel and tourism event. Just having a presence at the event is positive and helps to raise brand awareness. The show is the perfect vehicle to introduce our new properties, products and services directly to a significant segment of our target audience,” said Brennan Berry, Sales Coordinator, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
Reed Travel Exhibitions - organisers of Arabian Travel Market 2009, which ran at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from May 5-8th - said it was pleased with the way the event had gone and was already working on bolstering 2010’s offering.
“This year is very much a watershed moment for the industry as a whole and to see such strong exhibitor and visitor numbers here in the Middle East is testament to the region’s reputation as one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic markets. We’re very pleased with the reaction to the 2009 event we see it as a very strong platform towards 2010 where we hope to see a complete industry recovery,” said Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“We have already begun receiving bookings for next year, which is extremely encouraging, and we have a number of new initiatives debuting in 2010 which will further increase the show’s standing as the premier setting for the travel sector to conduct Middle East business.”
For 2009, the show’s organisers launched a number of programmes to enhance the event’s knowledge-sharing capabilities, including an expanded seminars programme, Travel Agents Day and Consumer & Careers Day, which debuted on Friday.
Held under the patronage of the UAE’s Ministry of Education, Careers Day saw hundreds of visitors, with a keen interest in working within the industry or developing an existing career, descend on the show to take part in face-to-face meetings with potential employers and attend specific career workshops and seminars hosted by established industry representatives.
“Careers Day was a great success and we are continuously looking at ways to bolster the products on the show floor, and Careers Day is a major addition to our offering. It is a way for the industry to give something back; it’s an initiative to shape and foster future industry CEOs and management figures,” added Walsh.
Arabian Travel Market 2009 boasted more than 2,100 exhibitors and stand-sharers, from 69 countries, including 70 new-to-market representatives, as well nearly 60 national tourist bodies representing six continents, including debutants from the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Romania and Nigeria, as well as first-time representation from the Ecuadorian, Slovenian and San Marino private sectors.
The four-day event also had increased space uptake from a number of destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Thailand, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritius and Kenya.
In addition, a host of first-time exhibiting countries, such as Romania and Cambodia, as well as regional and international carriers including Swiss Airlines, Jazeera Airways and Wataniya Airways, who all made their debuts, also made significant space commitments for 2009.
The show also saw delegations, led by senior government Ministers, from a host of international and Middle East nations and states, including Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Cyprus, Bahrain, Kenya, Kuwait, Spain, Indonesia, Jordan, South Africa, Argentina, Romania, India, Morocco, Greece, Thailand, the Philippines and Nepal.