Arabian Travel Market (ATM) organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions, is finalising the line-up for this year’s event, which is taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 25-28 April 2016.
Following the success of last year’s spotlight theme, which was family travel, the focus for the 23rd edition is on mid-market tourism – a key area of opportunity for Middle East destinations looking to diversify their source markets and attract a larger volume of visitors.
“As tourism infrastructure across the Gulf and beyond continues on its high profile development path, our spotlight theme for 2016 has turned to mid-market tourism,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market. “This has been identified as both an underdeveloped and potential growth area for the region, driven by demand from the growing middle class markets such as China, India and Africa combined with budget Generation Y travellers and young families.”
A key point of discussion will be the number of new hotel rooms entering the market, including the share that is planned to be in the four- and three-star classification. According to the January Pipeline Report from STR Global, there are 538 hotels totaling 151,771 rooms under contract in the Middle East and 321 hotels totaling 62,194 rooms under contract in Africa. Makkah, Saudi Arabia, reported the largest number of rooms under construction with 21,068 rooms in 13 hotels. Three other markets reported more than 5,000 rooms under construction: Dubai, United Arab Emirates (19,846 rooms in 63 hotels); Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (6,738 rooms in 30 hotels); and Doha, Qatar (5,980 rooms in 26 hotels). In Dubai, for instance, Dubai currently has a total hotel key count of approximately 94,000 and this figure is set to rise to between 140,000 and 160,000 keys by 2020 with around 20% set to target the mid-market hotel sector, according to a recent Knight Frank report.
Midmarket focused seminars include the opening session, Dubai of the Future, taking place on 25 April from 13:00 - 14:30 on the new ATM Global Stage. Panelists including Gerald Lawless, Head of Tourism, Dubai Holding will pinpoint the source markets Dubai should be targeting including midmarket travelers, families, young independent travelers and couples, as well as the high-growth-potential BRIC countries in order to evolve over the next two decades.
The mid-market strategies session, taking place on 26 April from 13:15 - 14:15, also on the ATM Global Stage, is designed specifically to identify who the midmarket traveler is, where they come from and what they want. Confirmed panelists include, Dr. Amine Moukarzel, President of Louvre Hotels Group MENA, Hilton Worldwide.
An additional exhibition hall has been added this year to cater to rising demand. ATM 2016 will welcome over 400 main stand holders and over 2,800 exhibiting companies with more than 26,000 visitors expected. Over 80 countries will be represented by exhibitors and over 150 countries will be represented by pre-registered visitors. A total of over 100 exhibitors are new this year and there are over 60 country pavilions.
Other new features at this year’s event include the Wellness & Spa Lounge, a dedicated space for 25 exhibitors designed to connect Middle East wellness and spa buyers with international suppliers in a series of exclusive pre-scheduled appointments on 26 and 27 April. There will also be a series on seminars taking place in the Showcase Theatre.
There’s also a valuable new networking feature for exhibitors and travel bloggers. The ATM Bloggers' Speed Networking will provide an opportunity for up to 40 travel bloggers to take part in mini-meetings with exhibitors to explore ways to work together in the future. Bloggers will be grouped by geography and by travel sector such as luxury travel, family travel, food and more. The event will take place on Thursday 28th April from 10am to 11am in Hall 8. The Travel Agent Academy will take place on the final day of the exhibition.