Who's in and who's out at this year's ATM.
Who's in and who's out at this year's ATM.
It's that time of the year again when travel product and service providers from around the world flock to Dubai to exhibit their wares at Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which this year takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 5-8.
For some, this year's event is more important than ever as they seek to engage with the region's top travel buyers during this difficult economic period in a bid to secure more business from the Middle East travel market, one they deem to be extremely lucrative.
With this in mind, there are several newcomers at this year's event including regional players such as the Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), low-cost airline Jazeera Airways, new Kuwaiti premium carrier, Wataniya Airways, Afghanistan's Safi Airways and Dubai agency Prime Travel as well as some international heavyweights ranging from destinations and hotel companies to travel trade associations.
They include: Cambodia, Munich, Xen Hotels & Resorts, Dusit International, Bulgari Hotels & Resorts and the African Travel & Tourism Association (ATTA).
Not only that, but some exhibitors have increased their presence at this year's show by either erecting a larger stand or bringing a bigger delegation. Saudi Arabia, the Costa del Sol, Kenya Tourism and Travelport GDS are three such exhibitors.
However, some exhibitors have chosen not to take part or to downsize their participation in ATM 2009.
Tourism Australia, Nakheel, the UK-based hotel group Rocco Forte Collection, Discover America, Alamo, EmQuest and Sabre will no longer have a dedicated stand at the show, but most will still have a presence there in some shape or form.
Top finalists for NFA
China, Mumbai and Palestine are the top three finalists for the 2009 New Frontiers Awards.
Voted for by industry experts and professionals including global travel and tourism associations, the award is designed to recognise destinations that make an outstanding contribution to tourism development in the face of staggering adversity.
The winner will be announced during a special awards ceremony at the Arabian Travel Market's annual exhibitors' party, which will be held on May 5, 2008, at The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai.
Representatives of the winning destination will be invited to attend the special ceremony and rewarded with US $10,000 worth of free exhibition space at Arabian Travel Market 2010.
A stark warning
A commitment to value and service is essential if the Middle East's tourism and hospitality industry is to weather the current economic storm.
That's the message Deloitte Middle East, tourism, hospitality and leisure partner Robert O'Hanlon, will give at ‘The Middle East Hotel Performance Review' seminar at ATM.
"Apart from utilising the opportunities created by a recessionary environment, hotels must continue implementing steps that create value in the long run," he said.
"They must resist the pressure to slash rates and provide a lesser-quality service."
However, O'Hanlon said significant investments made in the Middle East's tourism industry during the last decade will help it recover from the current economic downturn.
He said the challenges of global economic fall-out and dollar-pegged destinations becoming more expensive for UK and European travellers could be mitigated by new and existing hotel brands providing value for money. O'Hanlon predicted growth in budget and premium hotel options would ensure the Middle East navigated the global tourism downturn, which saw regional revenue per available room rates (RevPAR) drop by more than 10% from November 2008 to January 2009.
"Gulf countries have signalled they are willing to invest in long-term, sustainable tourism developments that appeal to a global audience," he said. "The hotel industry is viewed by these players as the driver in the development of their business and tourism sectors."
O'Hanlon said the region's underlying wealth and the appreciation of quality would ensure there would always be a call for premium accommodation, while mid-market and budget operators were well placed to gain ground over competitors if current economic conditions persisted beyond 2009.
Gold Swiss-Belhotel Dubai has announced that the structural work on the soon-to-open hotel located in Bur Dubai is complete with the finishing touches being applied to the interiors for a July opening.
The four-storey hotel, located in Al Mina Road will feature 184 rooms and suites, and has been designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of market segments.
The property, which will exhibit at ATM, is a mid-market niche product featuring a business centre, meeting facilities and recreation facilities that include an outdoor rooftop swimming pool and day spa.
The MegaBorneo special planner
DMC MegaBorneo Tour Planner, which specialises in Borneo and Malaysia, will be bringing its recently-completed special-edition Borneo Travel Planner for travel trade partners in the Middle East and Iran to this year's ATM.
It features various unique holiday packages to Borneo, which use Brunei as the main gateway.
A selection of Brunei stopover packages are also featured from Dubai and Jeddah to Australia, New Zealand , Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Bangkok using Royal Brunei Airlines, which flies from Dubai.
A copy of the edition Borneo Tour Planner for travel trade partners is available upon request through Megaborneo@brunet.bn for the attention of Khirul Zainie or Ailee Tan.
Al Aqah goes green
Le Méridien Al Aqah will highlight its extensive environmental initiatives at ATM. Having already planted 100 new coconut palms along its shoreline in 2008, this year the resort's staff and the local Fujairah community will embark on a number of ‘green' activities including recycling awareness with local schools and beaches, an environmental symposium at the resort's conference centre, tree planting and an awareness programme about Red Tide.
Travelport set for major presence
Marking its ATM debut since it began direct operations in the Middle East, Travelport GDS, operator of the Galileo booking platform, will be highlighting some of the advanced capabilities of its flagship Galileo platform at this year's event, including live demonstrations of upcoming products designed to help agents compete more effectively.
It will also be leveraging ATM to reveal details of an exclusive region-wide customer win and further build on the momentum it has gained within the travel trade with its new training and support network.
"Arabian Travel Market is the ideal platform for Travelport to reach out to the travel trade and highlight some of the key successes we've enjoyed since launching our direct operations in the region," said Travelport GDS Middle East vice-president Rabih Saab.
"It's also the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our industry leadership by showcasing our most highly-anticipated products ever."
Captivating and affordable Britain
VisitBritain will showcase some of Britain's top travel and tourism products as a preview for the summer 2009 holiday season at ATM.
"Arabian Travel Market provides VisitBritain with the ideal platform to promote and share some of Britain's latest tourism developments," said VisitBritain marketing manager, UAE Carol Maddison.
"ATM has always been a major travel trade event for us to reinforce our commitment to the Middle East as a priority market. It provides us with a great opportunity to establish new business contacts and network with our long established travel trade and media partners in the region."
A variety of key British companies will join forces with VisitBritain.
They include the UK Border Agency, One NorthEast, Camp Beaumont, Lancaster Landmark, Park Plaza Hotels, Radisson The Mayfair Hotel, The Spires Apartments, Prestigious Travel and the Aviator Hotel in Farnborough.