This year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai will attract more than 22,000 industry professionals reveals Reed Travel Exhibitions group exhibition director Mark Walsh.
What are your projections for visitor and exhibitor numbers this year?
Arabian Travel Market will cover 20,000m² of exhibition space maintaining its position as the leading event for the region. We are expecting more than 2100 exhibitors and stand-sharers from 65 countries, and more than 22,000 industry professionals to attend this year’s show.
Have any new destinations signed up for the show this year?
This year we welcome representatives from the Iraqi travel sector to the show in Dubai for the first time. The Iraq Tourism Board in partnership with Al Rafidain Company for travel and tourism, has confirmed 100m² of exhibition space and is poised to revive its travel and tourism sector. Other new countries exhibiting this year include Poland, Hungary, Mexico, Slovenia, Aqaba Ukraine and Chad.
How do you think the mood at the show will compare to last year?
Arabian Travel Market always provides a positive boost to inbound and outbound tourism to the Middle East highlighting the dynamic potential of the region.
Following the exhibitor workshops throughout the GCC in February we have seen that our exhibitors are getting prepared earlier than ever before.
Exhibiting partners have been registered earlier enabling them to fully take advantage of the pre-show promotional opportunities on the ATM website and meeting planning tools such as our online communication portal, Connect@ATM. Furthermore, they can take advantage of our iPhone and BlackBerry application.
What are the big issues being covered by the seminar programme and who are the keynote speakers we need to look out for?
We have a range of new and exciting seminars taking place at this year’s show covering airlines, luxury, new hotel concepts, sustainability, social media, fashion and events.
In my opinion, sessions and speakers to look out for this year are the inaugural World Travel Market Visions conference discussing green initiatives, Euromonitor’s future of travel in the Middle East seminar, the medical tourism seminar and Tim Clark’s Emirates in the hot seat seminar.
Have you added any new features to this year’s event?
We have conducted industry research across many of the Reed Travel Exhibitions around the world and identified a number of new industry trends that are gathering significant pace, namely medical and cruise tourism.
To support the growth in these sectors we have incorporated into this year’s show dedicated pavilions to accommodate both of these sectors. Also, luxury is a major focal point for us this year and we are running a luxury initiative with our sister show International Luxury Travel Show, which is renowned as the leading luxury show worldwide.
Also, in conjunction with Hotelier Middle East, Millennium Hotel Dubai is running a recruitment project in a similar format to BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’.
It is a fast track opportunity for candidates looking for a career in the hotel industry at a junior management entry level. (See page 26 for more on this)
You’ve changed the timings of the show this year; what impact will this have on the event?
We decided to change the format of the show after a survey revealed that the majority of participants wanted more time to explore business opportunities, while also retaining a consumer element. With more time for people to conduct business, naturally more business will be done.
The new timings are Monday to Thursday (May 2-5), with new opening times creating an extra day of business on Thursday followed by a dedicated consumer session later that day from 3pm to 9pm.
What are you most excited about at this year’s show?
Arabian Travel Market, despite the economical and political situation, has not seen a decrease in exhibitors or registered visitors in 2011, which will provide a positive and realistic boost to inbound and outbound tourism for the region.
We are looking forward to the implementation of the new features this year and welcoming back our loyal visitors and exhibitors, as well as welcoming a number of first timers.
Another aspect of the show that is close to my heart is the New Frontiers Award launched in 2006 by Arabian Travel Market. The New Frontiers Award has been designed to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity, helping the chosen destination with an exceptional marketing opportunity by donating exhibition space at Arabian Travel Market to the value of US $10,000.