ATM 2017 PACKS IN THE CROWDS
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.