By Shilpa Mathai
The 11th edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has seen announcements of more than 80 new hotel projects in the Gulf and the Middle East, reflecting the buoyant regional hospitality sector.
The number of hotel projects announced between March and the first week of May totals around 110 - the largest number of launches in such a short time.
They include the latest announcement by the Intercontinental Hotels Group to develop 20 budget hotels under the Express brand, 10 hotels by newly announced hotel management company Refad Group, three by Kempinski, two by Abu Dhabi’s National Corporation for Hotels and Tourism, 10 new hotels by Hilton, 27 by Accor and three new hotels by Fairmont.
In March this year, Abu Dhabi-based Rotana announced 10 new hotels, followed by the launch of Coral brand, which is developing 25 hotels in three to five years.
Meanwhile, tourism ministers from 22 Arab countries who gathered in Dubai for the 7th Arab Tourism Minister’s Conference have voiced their concerns about the lack of coordination among the Arab countries in promoting tourism. Arab tourism officials underlined the need to bridge the gap with the west by undertaking joint tourism promotions to help people develop a better understanding.
More than 8,000 trade professionals from 92 countries attended the ATM this year, according to organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions, an increase of 23% on last year’s attendance levels. “This means we have registered visitors from 20 additional countries than last year,” said Matt Thompson, group exhibitions director, Reed Travel Exhibitions. “The extra countries stretch from Bermuda in the East to Comores in the South. Overseas trade visitor attendance is running 45 per cent ahead of last year.”
Exhibitors are already planning their participation at Arabian Travel Market 2005, which will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 3 to 6. Austria and Spain hope to expand their pavilions while numerous private companies are also looking to grow their participation next year.