106% increase in Chinese visitors to ATM 2019

Saudi, travel tech and innovation dominated the show’s agenda, reveals report

Exhibitors from Asia saw an 8% year-on-year increase in total floor space
Exhibitors from Asia saw an 8% year-on-year increase in total floor space

Figures released have revealed  that this year’s Arabian Travel Market (held at Dubai World Trade Centre from 28 April – 1 May 2019) saw a 106% increase in visitors from China and a 20% increase in international visitors to the event.

Figures also released show that exhibitors from Asia saw an 8% year-on-year increase in total floor space, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka being the largest exhibitors, the report said.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “The continued growth of ATM is testament to the continued strength of the travel and tourism industry in the Middle East.

“It not only brings together travel and tourism professionals from around the globe to discuss the potential of the regional outbound market, where GCC tourists spend over six times the global average.“In addition, it draws major inbound players, eager to capitalize on the huge amount of investment that is being put into the region’s tourism infrastructure, including its airlines, resorts, attractions and facilities.”

The 2019 edition of ATM highlighted “cutting-edge” technology and innovation, reportedly had more than 400 main stand holders with more than 100 new exhibitors making their debut.

The number of countries represented at ATM 2019 totalled more than 150.

ATM 2019 got underway with the ‘Arabia China Tourism Forum’. With the overall number of outbound tourists from China projected to hit 224 million by 2022, according to research conducted by Colliers International, the session explored how Gulf states can boost Chinese visitor numbers by catering to the younger travellers arriving from the Far East.

An expert panel revealed that unique and tech-enabled experiences represent a key component when it comes to convincing younger Chinese travellers to visit the GCC.

Panellists noted that China’s free independent travellers (FITs) are looking for attractions that are not available in other markets.

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Terry von Bibra, GM Europe, Alibaba Group, said: “Smaller groups [of Chinese travellers] are going to new places to discover and have unique experiences – special experiences that they can share with friends on social media, which is very important.

New to ATM 2019, focused seminar ‘Why Tourism is Saudi’s New ‘White Oil’, was one of many other sessions on the Global Stage. With Kingdom-based industries in direct contact with tourists expected to generate more than US $25 billion this year, an expert panel discussed the opportunities related to upcoming tourism-focused developments and visa reforms.

The development of new projects such as The Red Sea Project and Qiddiya, both of which are completely reinventing destinations, and the creation of local attractions thanks to the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program and the General Entertainment Authority (GEA) as well as the roll-out of 30-day Umrah Plus Visas, eVisas and specialists visas for events, the Kingdom looks set to attract more tourists than ever before.

Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO, Dur Hospitality, said: “We’ve been in the hospitality sector for 42 years and we’ve never seen anything like this. What’s happening now is earth shattering. The change of mindset in terms of opening up this country for visitors – whether for religious or general tourism – is definitely something to be celebrated.”

Figures released also revelaed that ATM visitor numbers “smashed” through the 28,000 mark for the third year in succession.

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