Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2011 the region’s leading travel industry showcase, which opened its doors on Monday 2 May, welcomed over 2,200 exhibitors from 69 countries, covering more than 20,000 square meters of floor space, highlighting the underlying strength of the regional tourism industry.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Middle East currently receives more than 36 million visitors per year, with this figure set to climb to 69 million tourists by 2020, an average growth rate of 6.7% even before factoring in the substantial positive impact of Qatar’s successful 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.
In the UAE, the number of hotel guests in Dubai grew by 10.7% during 2010, while Abu Dhabi saw visitor growth of 18% in 2010.
Qatar has $100 billion programme of infrastructure expansion includes 80,000 new hotel rooms by 2022. In Oman, leisure tourism is already booming, with 10% average annual growth in hotels stays. Oman’s business tourism is also primed for growth, with the beginning of construction on the new $1 billion Oman Conference and Exhibition Centre in Muscat.
Likewise, the Gulf’s most populous nation, Saudi Arabia, is also growing in popularity as a destination for religious, business and cultural tourism, with BMI anticipating growth of 6.7% per year between now and 2014.
Arabian Travel Market reflected the robust performance of the travel, tourism and hospitality sector of Dubai, which continues to record strong growth in passenger arrivals and hotel stays. Tourism and hospitality are key pillars of the Dubai economy, and ATM fosters new regional and international partnerships that will boost the sectors."
Ali Abu Monassar, Chairman, The Vision Destination Management, said, «The show proved to be not only an excellent business platform to showcase, launch and place products, but also an important pillar in the growth and reputation of our destination,» he added.
Iraq, Poland, Hungary, Mexico, Slovenia, Aqaba, Ukraine and Chad exhibited at ATM for the first time this year.
Online Travel Continues its Strong Growth
Euromonitor International released its research results at WTM Vision Conference — Dubai. The online travel and tourism industry is poised to ‘experience solid growth’ over the next five years — with the Middle East and Africa leading the way in percentage terms.
Air remains the strongest online category, accounting for more than 50% of sales by value in North America and Australasia in 2010. For the Middle East and Africa, air represented around 10% of 2010’s value. However, between 2010 and 2015 air will experience a 13% compound annual growth rate in the region, the strongest figures in the Travel and Tourism Global Overview report.
Online hotel sales in Middle East and Africa over the period will grow by more than 12%, sharing the top slot with Latin America which sees the same growth rates for accommodation.
The growth figures for North America are in single digits for air and hotels at 6% and 4% respectively.
Speaking at WTM Vision Conference — Dubai today, Euromonitor International Travel and Tourism Industry Analyst Nadejda Popova said: «The Middle East is one of the world’s growing tourism destinations and source markets.
«This growth is replicated online over the next five years with web sales across both air travel and accommodation increasing dramatically.»
She added that in the mature online market of Western Europe hotel sales still represented a worthwhile opportunity. Social media is another opening, particularly as airlines such as Delta and easyJet now have transactional Facebook pages.
However, the study also identified potential negative factors. Popova warned the trend for suppliers to focus on direct sales could «increase conflict» between distribution channels. It is also concerned that high profile bankruptcies and subsequent consumer protection issues could impact consumer sentiment for dynamic packaging operators.
Furthermore, online travel agents’ inability to offer «the personal touch» during the holiday sales process, and ongoing technical difficulties in arranging complex itineraries, are seen as other headwinds.
World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery, said: «The Middle East’s importance in the global travel and tourism industry is growing every year. Online travel sales are mature in western markets such as the UK and America and the Middle East is catching up over the next five years.»
The report — worth £1,000 — was given FREE to all delegates at the WTM Vision Conference — Dubai.