Hospitality News Middle East - - EVENTS - Ara­bi­antrav­el­mar­

This year’s Ara­bian Travel Mar­ket held in Dubai World Trade Cen­tre from April 24-27 got off to an in­spir­ing start, with an in­for­ma­tive dis­cus­sion on the legacy of Expo 2020. Now just un­der three years away, it was re­vealed that plans for the site af­ter the world show­case con­cludes will see 80 per­cent of the plot re-de­vel­oped with all Expo’s as­sets and trans­port in­fras­truc­ture re-pur­posed for fu­ture use by a range of ten­ants and ma­jor pri­vate sec­tor firms.

Tourists ar­rivals will triple by 2030

While the UNWTO & ATM Min­is­te­rial Fo­rum, which was at­tended by more than 20 gov­ern­ment min­is­ters and global leaders, con­cluded that the main pri­or­i­ties for the re­gion’s tourism in­dus­try in­clude hu­man re­sources de­vel­op­ment, pub­lic/ pri­vate sec­tor co­op­er­a­tion, con­nec­tiv­ity, tech­nol­ogy and sus­tain­abil­ity. “De­spite all ex­ter­nal shocks, the Mid­dle East and North Africa tell one of tourism’s big­gest suc­cess sto­ries. A story that brings an im­mense op­por­tu­nity to make tourism a pil­lar of eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, job cre­ation and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment in this re­gion,” said UNWTO sec­re­tary-gen­eral, Taleb Ri­fai. “This meet­ing pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to iden­tify the pri­or­i­ties of tourism pol­icy for the MENA des­ti­na­tions, strengthen re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships that pre­pare the re­gion to wel­come the 195 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional tourist ar­rivals – al­most triple the present vol­ume of 72 mil­lion – fore­casted by UNWTO for 2030,” he added.

Ac­com­mo­dat­ing ha­lal trav­el­ers

New this year, the in­au­gu­ral Ha­lal Travel Sum­mit, was one of many sem­i­nar ses­sions on the Global Stage, which wel­comed lead­ing Mus­lim travel in­dus­try ex­perts in­clud­ing Rafi-ud­din Shikoh, CEO of Di­nar­stan­dard and Faeez Fadhlil­lah, CEO of Salam Stan­dard & Tripfez, in a dis­cus­sion about ha­lal des­ti­na­tion strate­gies and how to sell ha­lal travel. Mus­lim travel is a key sec­tor for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation through­out the world, gen­er­at­ing USD 139 bil­lion in GDP and cre­at­ing 4.5 mil­lion jobs world­wide. Fadhlil­lah said, “The USA and the EU rep­re­sent 44 per­cent of the global Mus­lim travel mar­ket, net­ting nearly USD 64 bil­lion of in­bound ex­pen­di­ture dur­ing 2015. “The Asian and Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries at­tracted more than a third (37 per­cent) of the global ex­pen­di­ture to­tal, and these re­gions are ex­pected to see the most ro­bust tourism growth in the com­ing years.”

The one-day sum­mit fea­tured three in­ter­ac­tive sem­i­nar ses­sions cov­er­ing the big pic­ture, ha­lal des­ti­na­tion strate­gies and how to sell ha­lal travel. It was agreed there was a strong need to cre­ate a ha­lal tourism in­dus­try body in­volv­ing both Mus­lims and non-mus­lims. Also, in the Mid­dle East, there is a need to de­velop for­mal ha­lal des­ti­na­tion strate­gies with pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor in­volve­ment and buy-in, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Asian coun­tries such as Malaysia, In­done­sia and Ja­pan.

Zulk­i­fly Md Said, di­rec­tor gen­eral, Is­lamic Tourism Cen­tre (ITC), Min­istry of Tourism and Cul­ture, Malaysia, said, “Is­lamic tourism is not some­thing that has to be forced upon. How­ever, if you feel that you want to ex­pand your busi­ness to the Mus­lim trav­eler, then you must un­der­stand the ad­just­ments you need to make to cap­ture their pres­ence.”

Re­spon­si­ble tourism, which played a huge part in the show and con­tin­ues to be at the fore­front of the in­dus­try, has ap­pro­pri­ately been named the theme for 2018.

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