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

TravTalk - Middle East - - FRONT PAGE - SHEHARA RIZLY

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

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