- Özgür Töre
Reed Travel Exhibitions, organizer of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), has announced that the 2021 edition of its annual showcase, will take place live at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Sunday 16 to Wednesday 19 May.
Now in its 27th year and working in collaboration with DWTC and Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), the theme of the show next year will be ‘A new dawn for travel and tourism’ and the spotlight will be thrown onto the current state of the industry and more importantly, what the future holds. It will also look at emerging trends and how innovation can drive the industry forward.
Supporting ATM’s theme, a recent Colliers report - MENA Hotel Forecasts, estimates that 2021 will be a year of recovery, based on the assumption that hotel performance across the region is already improving. Major destinations such as Dubai and Cairo are leading the way with estimated full year 2021 occupancy levels of 68% and 65% respectively.
They were closely followed by Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Muscat and Amman, with average occupancies of 58%, 56%, 51%, 48%, and 45% respectively. Overall, average year-on-year growth of the 20 destinations researched was 47%.
The health of the travel and tourism industry is key to the region. Prior to the pandemic, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP was predicted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), to reach US $133.6 billion by 2028. So, given subdued oil prices and a general economic slowdown due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is clear that the regional economy will be relying on travel and tourism to recover quickly, once a vaccine has been fully developed and rolled out.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Last week, Pfizer released the first reading of its Phase-3 trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine, announcing that it was more than 90% effective in preventing the coronavirus, based on interim data analysis.
“If approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Pfizer estimates it can roll out 50 million doses this year and up to 1.3 billion in 2021, enough to vaccinate almost 675 million people. So, we are confident that by May next year, we will be on the threshold of a new dawn for our industry.”
ATM 2021 will also play an integral role in Arabian Travel Week and for the first time, a new hybrid format will mean a virtual ATM running a week later to complement and reach a wider audience than ever before. ATM Virtual, which made its debut earlier this year after ATM 2020 was postponed, proved to be a resounding success attracting 12,000 online attendees from 140 countries.
In total, the event facilitated 11,301 prescheduled one-to-one meetings and 23 live video sessions including Q&As and polls which ran alongside the presentations to enable audience interaction. Overall, the webinars had more than 24,000 views over the course of three days.
“It is imperative that we include a virtual element to Arabian Travel Week because many industry professionals from around the world, cannot attend the live event in person every year. It would also be naïve of us to imagine that governments throughout the world will relax their travel restrictions, to the same degree, at the same time and of course reopening airports and flight routes will also vary by country,” said Curtis.
Other notable features of Arabian Travel Week will include International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) 2021, and Travel Forward, the travel technology vertical. ATM will also be partnering with Arival, which through a series of webinars will cover current and future trends for tour operators and destination managers.
Other features will include Buyers Forums dedicated to key source markets including Saudi Arabia, India and China plus a virtual digital influencers’ speed networking session, a hotel summit and a responsible tourism programme.
The show will strictly adhere to all DWTC’s stringent health and safety guidelines and will set out to provide a touchless and seamless experience. The team at DWTC are working hard to ensure that all events run safely and have implemented a range of measures including an enhanced cleaning regime, improved air circulation, multiple hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks.
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed almost 40,000 people to its 2019 event with representation from 150 countries. With over 100 exhibitors making their debut, ATM 2019 showcased the largest ever exhibition from Asia.