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ATM 2014: OTA Middle East sales to reach US$3 billion this year

ATM 2014: OTA Middle East sales to reach US$3 billion this year

Travel Technology Theatre at Arabian Travel Market returns once again this year, as the region’s young tech-savvy generation and worldwide developments in the digital travel field open up new areas of IT-related opportunity and education for the industry.

According to IT giant Cisco, mobile data traffic in the Middle East & Africa region will grow faster than in any other part of the world between now and 2018, with penetration of smartphones and tablets using the latest technology forecast to reach 598 million devices within the next four years, up from just 133 million in 2013.

One in six consumers in the region is also now using the Internet as the booking platform of choice according to, with the distinctive needs of digitally engaged travellers across the Middle East demanding a tailor-made approach from travel providers.

“Around 60 per cent of airline booking and ticketing in Dubai alone comes from e-commerce and with youth accounting for 60 per cent of the GCC population the need for the tourism industry in the region to be at the forefront of digital development and connectivity is a given.

“Our Sabre Travel Technology Theatre line-up for 2014 is a ‘how to’ guide to grow your online business, connect with the trendsetters and effectively measure ROI,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

Data released by PhoCusWright in 2013 revealed that online travel agency sales in the Middle East hit US$ 2.3 billion last year, and this figure is expected to jump by four per cent to 17 per cent by the end of 2014.

The GCC countries are also leading the pack in terms of social media activity, with 94 per cent or 56 million MENA region users on Facebook and Twitter generating around ten million Tweets per day with over 3.7 million users.

“With the Travel Technology Theatre now in its third year and an established calendar feature, our tie-up with Sabre, an established global leader in this field, and the fact that we will welcome a record 72 travel technology-specific exhibitors to ATM, demonstrates the influence of online technology on all aspects of the travel cycle from planning and booking to recording memories and sharing experiences,” remarked Walsh.

Sponsored by Sabre, the technology solutions provider to the global travel and tourism industry, this year’s Travel Technology Theatre series covers 16 exciting sessions and will open on Monday May 5th with a session on ‘Mobile in Travel’ where some of the best minds in the industry have been drafted in to speak including Ian Humphreys, Regional Director Middle East, Caliber Interactive and Dan Cross, Territory Manager MEA for TripAdvisor.

“Keeping it mobile seems to be the overriding theme, whether that means a session on how travellers are using mobile and lessons for successful mobile advertising, which will be led by Google Industry Manager - Travel MENA, Kara Moddermann, or interactive participation in a number of sessions focusing on the latest technological advances and trends in digital consumer behaviour,” said Walsh.