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Fri 8 May 2009 04:00 AM

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Guess who?

Who's in and who's out at this year's ATM.

Guess who?
Mumbai is one of the three finalists for the 2009 New Frontiers Awards.
Guess who?
Jamie Knights.
Guess who?
ATM exhibitors and visitors will be talking serious business this year.
Guess who?
Robert O’Hanlon.
Guess who?
Al Diar Siji Hotel Fujairah general manager Fouad Melhem.
Guess who?
Travelport GDS Middle East VP Rabih Saab will be meeting trade partners at ATM 2009.

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.

Why ATM is a must-visit showThe 2009 installment of ATM is arguably the most important yet, argues ATN's editor Jamie Knights

It would be a gross generalisation to say that doom and gloom has engulfed every travel business in 2009 but it would be fair to say that most would have noticed a softening in business.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is a chance for companies, destinations and properties to get their message across to the trade and it is a chance for the trade to source the best partners, deals and opportunities. Travel is changing and the educational opportunities offered at the seminar programmes shouldn't be missed.

Perhaps you feel you don't need to be at ATM and you may think you have good reasons for not participating.

Cash may be tight and you may have failed to find partners with whom to exhibit and share the cost.

However, those who have exhibited at other travel shows this year say it was well worth the investment. Industry feedback reveals that at ITB Berlin, there were fewer timewasters and more serious business discussions took place, while participants at GIBTM in Abu Dhabi said the show was very worthhile.

This bodes well for ATM 2009, which we expect to be time and money well spent.

"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.

Swiss-Belhotel Dubai

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.

Al Diar Siji Hotel Fujairah GM Fouad Melhem talks to ATNWhy do you exhibit at Arabian Travel Market?

We have been exhibiting at ATM in the past and it has always been a well-attended event. We keep on participating at ATM because we see it as a great avenue for us to present our hotel and at the same time promote the Emirate of Fujairah.

With the present economic climate, we hope that as we go to the travel exhibitions where the market is, it will aid in bringing in leisure tourists and business travellers.

How has you hotel performed in 2009?

Despite the economy, we are off to a good start. As a business hotel, we have not been affected much as we cater more to business travellers. Although there has been a decline in arrivals from Europe, it has not affected our figures because there has been a significant increase in business from the UAE, the Middle East and Oceania from January to March compared to last year. The fact that we have also recently strengthened our conferencing facilities has helped too.

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.

Hotels.com’s ATM first
Hotels.com EMEA managing director Nigel Pocklington

Why is Hotels.com attending ATM 2009?

Hotels.com will be announcing new developments for travellers across the Middle East exclusively at ATM.

This the first time Hotels.com has attended ATM and this is a key indication of the continuing and growing importance of this region for Hotels.com.

What does Hotels.com hope to achieve by appearing at ATM?

ATM is widely recognised as the leading travel and tourism exhibition in the Middle East and is an excellent platform for Hotels.com to interact with the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, not to mention an excellent opportunity to interact directly with customers travelling to and from the Middle East.

Visitors to ATM will have the opportunity to experience Hotels.com for themselves and learn how they too can benefit from the company which currently operates 52 sites around the world including 31 sites in 24 languages.

Are you announcing any key news such as local business wins, expansion plans or regional growth?

Hotels.com will be announcing exciting new developments, specifically tailored for the Middle East market.

Aside from the new Middle East developments, industry delegates and travellers will also have the opportunity to experience the new Hotels.com Visualiser, which matches users to their perfect hotel by simply asking users to select from a series of pictures.

How does the company feel about the Middle East travel and tourism industry?

The Middle East presents an important growth area for Hotels.com and the ATM announcement will reflect this.

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