Largest ATM ever turns ‘experiential’
Keeping up with the current travel trends, the Arabian Travel Market this year will focus on three key areas – experiential, halal and luxury travel and how the tourism business is responding to the demands of the digital world, reveals Senior Exhibition
Q Could you explain the theme in focus for this year’s ATM?
Travellers are increasingly looking beyond conventional leisure programmes and itineraries to actively seek typical experiences that deliver a true taste of local culture. Experiential travel encompasses adventure, culture, heritage, wellness & spa, and cruise tourism segments, which are currently trending globally.
Today we see brands and tourism industry stakeholders offering their guests intangible and emotional experiences, immersing them in local culture, traditional and ways of life. It’s an appeal that can be successfully transferred to backpackers and billionaires alike. This growing trend is now on the radar of the region’s tourism chiefs.
The Middle East has an abundance of authentic local experiences to offer from overnight stays in a stone house in remote Omani villages to Old Dubai walking tours that search out the best street food. Elsewhere, the meteoric rise in the popularity of Airbnb and volunteer tourism are just some of the ways the industry has evolved to capitalise on the growing trend, while bringing new players into the market. At ATM 2017, there will be a focus on converting these concepts into viable commercial realities to broaden the appeal of Middle East destinations and increase their visitor numbers and revenues, which can support sustainable economic development.
Q What will be different at ATM this year?
We have three major new additions for the 2017 show: the Digital Transformation Summit, the Halal Tourism Summit, and ILTM Arabia. The Digital Transformation Summit takes place in the Travel Tech Theatre and will explore how the travel businesses is responding to the demands of the digital world. Sessions in the Travel Tech Theatre will include ‘The New Age Travel Agent,’ which will assess how smart travel agents are evolving to meet the needs of today’s travellers.
The Halal Travel Summit takes place on the Global Stage and will showcase leading Muslim travel industry experts including, Rafi-uddin Shikoh, CEO of DinarStandard and Faeez Fadhlillah, CEO of Salam Standard and Tripfez, who will discuss the big picture, halal destination strategies and how to sell halal travel. The Chief Information Officer Summit will take place in Abu Dhabi room B alongside the main exhibition and will be held exclusively for CIOs to share best practice, knowledge and strategy.
In response to the Middle East’s growing international luxury travel market, ILTM Arabia will showcase the buoyant market for luxury products and experiences that define the region’s outbound travel market. Co-located with ATM 2017, ILTM Arabia will target high net-worth travellers from throughout the GCC and wider Middle East region, with buyers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar expected to have a particularly strong presence. Targeting the region’s highest net worth travellers, this is an invitation only event. Buyers will be fully hosted by ILTM Arabia and attend one-to-one, pre-scheduled appointments with up to 25 international luxury travel brands – a first for ATM and the proven successful ILTM Arabia portfolio format.
Q Could you share the growth since last year? The show has experienced phenomenal growth of over 70 per cent since 2012 and this year already looks like it’s going to break all previous records. We have more than 100 new exhibitors and 65 country pavilions, while we expect representation from 140 countries over the course of the event. This year we have over 400 mainstand holders and expect more than 2,800 exhibiting companies. We will also have our hugely successful country pavilions. In terms of visitors, we expect to welcome more than 30,000 people over the course of the show. Almost $2.5 billion of business was negotiated at ATM last year and similar levels are anticipated for 2017.
Simon Press Senior Exhibition Director Arabian Travel Market