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HomeFairs & ExhibitionsTrade visitors from 68 countries visit Arabian Travel Market 2002 – Bookings for 2003 take off

Trade visitors from 68 countries visit Arabian Travel Market 2002 – Bookings for 2003 take off

Initial unaudited figures issued by Reed<.> Travel Exhibitions (RTE<.>), organisers of Arabian Travel Market 2002,ATM<.>, which closed on Friday night after a four-day run at the Airport Expo Dubai, reveal that trade buyers…

Initial unaudited figures issued by Reed<.> Travel Exhibitions (RTE<.>), organisers of Arabian Travel Market 2002,ATM<.>, which closed on Friday night after a four-day run at the Airport Expo Dubai, reveal that trade buyers from 68 countries attended the ninth ATM<.> in the annual series.

By Thursday night and before the show opened to the public, some 5,624 trade professionals had visited – a slight 5.4% drop on last year's attendance. Sixty-three percent of the trade turnout by Thursday night came from the UAE, 5.9% were from Saudi Arabia and 4.6% from Kuwait.

"Trade attendance from the UAE was 6.8% down on last year," explained Matt Thompson, RTE's Group Exhibition Director, Overseas Events. "There could be several reasons for this – consolidation within the local industry, the change of show venue or the fact that many previous visitors from the Emirates have since been converted into exhibitors."

The number of overseas trade visitors attending by Thursday night was only slightly down on last year from 2,119 to 2,062.

The media corps covering this year's show increased substantially with 563 press members registering compared to 451 in 2001.

"The international coverage the show has achieved this year should help further build its global profile which could translate into a wider geographic footprint for both exhibitors and visitors in the future," said Thompson.

RTE says the show, which featured over 700 exhibitors from 56 countries, delivered a clear demonstration of the resilience of the international travel industry, which was badly hit by the events of September 11 last year.

"This is the first international travel show which has demonstrably held its own since September 11," said Thompson. "Other shows have witnessed visitor falls of around 25% whereas ATM 2002 almost achieved last year's trade registration, which was a record for the show.

"The main thing is that business has still been done. There has been a challenge in managing expectations with the change of venue and we will be taking feedback from exhibitors and consider any layout recommendation they have."

And as the curtain came down on Arabian Travel Market 2002, bookings for ATM 2003, which will be held at the Airport Expo Dubai from May 6-9, were already being made.

One of the first to contract was Saudi Arabian Airlines which has pledged to increase its stand by 30%.

"We had a very successful show this year and negotiated deals with two Malaysian tour operators in readiness for this summer when we will increase our flights to the country," said Mohammed Amin Turkistani, of the carrier's marketing department. "We also concluded deals with hotels and tour operators from Germany and Austria."

Also rebooking was Hotel Napoleon of Paris, which signed US $75,000 worth of room night business at ATM 2002.

"A highlight of the show for us was the high quality Saudi visitors we met which were new, important contacts for us," said Olivier Hanout, Room Division Manager, Hotel Napoleon.

Dubai-headquartered Ramee Group of Hotels was also quick off the mark confirming it has doubled the size of its stand for 2003.

"We are expanding and need to raise our profile more and this is the show to do it," said Preetha Sharma, Group Business Development Manager, Ramee Group of Hotels. "This year's show enabled us to tie up with numerous travel agents from around the GCC who have bought in bulk."

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said it is now preparing to receive Middle East groups in October and November this year, from tour operator and individual bookings received on its stand.

"The show was an eye opener for us and fascinating," said Ngugi Gecaga of KWS. "This show serves an enormous market and there is particular potential for us from the expatriate sector which is taking up to two holidays a year. While one is to return to their home base, the other is for an independent break and we can attract them because we're just four hours flying time away."

Also increasing the size of its stand next year is Dubai-based tour operator Net Tours. "Thanks to this show we are now negotiating around a dozen new contracts with buyers from Iran, Turkey, South Africa, India and Belgium" said Matthew Kurian, Sales and Marketing Manager, Net Tours.

Other bookings achieved included Dubai's Taj Palace Hotel, which contracted ten wedding party packages and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, which reported signing an incremental 12,000 room nights for its 10 hotels in Asia.

Official country group organisers from Mauritius and Malaysia also predicted bigger national pavilions at next year's show. "We need at least 400 square metres next year because of the overwhelming response we received," said Aminuddin A. B. Hamid, Deputy Director Marketing Middle East, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.

Trade visitors gave the show a sound vote of approval saying it was meeting their expectations.

Yoshito Kumazki, of Tokyo's Pollux Tourism said ATM was an unparalleled networking opportunity. "I came to arrange corporate packages for Japanese tourists wishing to visit Dubai. It was a great chance for me to meet the key local and regional players," he said.

Qatari visitor Dr. Ahmed M. A. Al Mulla, Assistant General Manager of Doha's Al Mulla Travels said for him the key attraction of the show was its accessibility. "GCC agents find this a very affordable show to attend and its very beneficial for us for networking," he said.

Mossa Al Buloshi of Oman National Transport said he and his colleagues visited the show was part of a business mission for a new company project.

"We are studying the launch of a new tourism and travel agency in Muscat and met with potential travel agency and tour operator partners from around the world. We've had a promising response. Interestingly enough, those from Europe and the Far East were also interested in launching business tours to Oman," he explained.

Thursday and Friday night saw a strong turnout of consumers to the show, though RTE says it could be several days before the true visitor picture emerges.

"We do independently audit the figures and will shortly be in a better position to say where we have lost, and where we have gained," said Matt Thompson. "This is the first year since the launch of ATM in 1994 that the show has registered a visitor drop of any sort, and such a minimal decline, given the challenging trading conditions for the industry over the past nine months, leaves us fairly satisfied."

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.