DUBAI – The world’s largest association of travel professionals arrived in Dubai last weekend as part of DTCM’s continuing strategy to increase the amount of visitors to the city from the North American market.
The International Destination Expo (IDE) is the annual gathering of The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), an association of 8,000 United Stated based members and 950 international affiliates. Held in a different global city each year, IDE is a platform for ASTA’s members to experience the destination for themselves, build a contact network of local suppliers and ultimately be in a knowledgeable and strategic position to promote and sell the destination to their clients.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), commented: “North America is our 4th biggest source market for tourism, with almost 600,000 people from the United States, Canada and Mexico visiting Dubai in 2012. However, there is a huge opportunity to grow this market, with many Americans unaware of Dubai’s tourism offer, let alone it being part of their consideration process when planning overseas holidays or business trips.
“The expansion of the Emirates Airline network in North America in recent years means that the market is now extremely well connected with Dubai. DTCM’s office in the region is focused on educating the supply chain to help fill those planes with travellers to our city. Hosting ASTA’s International Destination Expo is a key part of this strategy - there is no substitute for travel agents experiencing the city for themselves and it is our intention that at the end of IDE 2013, more than 600 travel agents will return home as ambassadors for Dubai, and we will see significant impact on the growth of North American visitors.”
IDE 2013 (4th-7th April) began with a glittering opening ceremony on the beach at Jumeirah Beach Hotel ahead of a weekend of seminars, meetings, tours and excursions. Delegates met with key Dubai organisations such as Emirates Airline, Jumeirah, JW Marriott Marquis, Starwood, IHG and 24 Degrees - all of which supported Dubai’s hosting of IDE 2013 – as well as tour operators, cruise operators, restaurants, attractions and hotel brands. They also had the opportunity to experience a number of key elements of the city’s tourism offer including the creek, souks, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai Museum, Bastakia, the Burj Al Arab, The Palm Jumeirah, a desert safari, and Burj Khalifa.
Zane B. Kerby, President and CEO of ASTA, commented: “ASTA chose Dubai as the host city of the ASTA 2013 International Destination Expo because the city is a world renown destination that is garnering more and more interest from US travellers. More than 600 attendees, primarily agents from the United States, are here this week to experience Dubai firsthand. By gaining local knowledge and contacts, ASTA members will be better equipped to advise their customers of Dubai’s cultural and modern attractions. Those who qualify by meeting specific education requirements will leave Dubai as 2013 ASTA Dubai Specialists.”
Founded in 1931, ASTA’s mission is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, hared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. With members in 140 countries, ASTA is the world’s largest and most influential travel trade association.
Jackie Friedman, President of Nexion LLC, the premier full-service host agency for independent, US based travel professionals, commented: “This is a wonderful opportunity for travel agents from the United States and our international chapters to fully experience what Dubai has to offer. By attending the educational sessions, engaging with suppliers at the tradeshow and taking advantage of the optional tours provided, they will leave here with the knowledge and confidence to sell Dubai as a destination.
“As the President of a network of over 3000 travel agents in the United States, I know how valuable this type of destination immersion is and I also know it will lead to increased sales.”