HRH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, today officially inaugurated Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2012, in the presence of senior government officials, leaders of the regional and international travel industry, as well as high-profile participants.
The event program for day one of ATM brings together some of the most prominent travel and tourism organizations in the Middle East and internationally, from both public and private sectors.
Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, organiser of Arabian Travel Market, said: “As the first promising signs of democratic progression emerge in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, the region’s tourism figures show that it is growing once again.
“This year’s ATM serves as a timely reminder and strong indicator of the vital role the travel and tourism industry plays in the region’s socio-economic development.
“A recent World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report showed the direct contribution of the travel and tourism trade to GDP is forecast to increase by 4.6 percent to over US$250 billion over the next decade.”
The 2012 installment of ATM has seen a 46 percent rise in visitor pre-registrations, against 2011 figures, for its 19th edition, as well as travel agent registration up by a whopping 213 percent.
“The record figures we’re receiving for this year’s event reflects the region’s positive approach to the tourism sector as a major economic driver. Eighteen months on from the Arab Spring, we have seen a significant jump in interest from within the gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, which is confirmed by the positive pre-show figures we have seen across the board,” remarked Walsh.
HRH Sheikh Mohammed toured the exhibition with other dignitaries including HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group, and Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways. This year, ATM features representatives from 87 countries, with 54 national tourist organizations exhibiting at the International Exhibition Center floor over the next four days.
Among international officials participating in the event are Alain Azouaou, Ambassador, French Embassy Abu Dhabi and Gonzalo De Benito Secades, Ambassador of Spain. Jean-Paul Tarud Kuborn, Chilean Ambassador to the UAE, also joined senior figures from tourism ministries in Cyprus, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
ATM is a comprehensive four-day travel trade event held from April 30-May 3, 2012, comprising exhibition, conference, and seminar programs, along with specialist industry days including travel agents day and careers day.
Topics discussed on day one included bouncing back from the “Arab Spring one-year on” and “Luxury hospitality in the modern age of globalization,”
Speakers on the first day included some of the region’s most influential business leaders, such as Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways, and Rudi Jagersbacher, President, Hilton Worldwide.
Highlights of the sessions tomorrow will include challenges facing aviation growth in the Middle East, attracting the Chinese traveler to the UAE, the Euromonitor travel industry global overview, along with the impact on tourism of the holy month of Ramadan.
With a diverse range of international participants, ATM unlocks business opportunities within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals.
Now in its 19th year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world.
PHOTO: HRH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, cuts the ribbon to mark the opening of Arabian Travel Market 2012.