With Expo 2020 on the horizon and a successful push to diversify economies away from a reliance on hydrocarbon receipts, confident travel professionals from the Middle East are heading to WTM London this November, to achieve a greater share of the multibillion dollar international market.
According to figures from the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation, UK tourists continued to flock to the UAE in 2016 – up five per cent in Dubai and three per cent in Abu Dhabi, despite the pound shedding over 16 per cent of its value against the US Dollar since the referendum result to leave the European Union. There was also a definitive resurgence in Russian visitors (+14%) after the UAE’s implementation of Visa-on-Arrival. Oman witnessed steady growth in visitors from Europe, with Britain and Germany among the top five tourism generating source markets. GCC nationals topped the number of tourist arrivals, followed by tourists from India, Britain and Germany.
Key exhibitors from the region this year include: Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ajman Tourism Development Department, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Jordan Tourism Board. Other new exhibitors from the region include: Solar Empire Travel, Azar Gasht Aseman, Baghdad Hotel Company and Kurdistan Tourism.
Simon Press, Senior Director, WTM London, said, “According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in the Middle East was $227.1 billion (9.1 per cent of GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 5.2 per cent in 2017, and by 4.8 per cent p.a. to $381.9 billion (9.7 per cent of GDP) in 2027.There are exciting times ahead for the Middle East, not least with the UAE set to host Expo 2020, with Dubai alone forecasting 160,000 hotel rooms in the emirate ahead of the world showcase opening. Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see the large number of exhibitors already signed up for WTM London. It’s a reflection of the burgeoning growth in that part of the world and how the travel trade there recognises that WTM London is an important platform to both conduct business and boost awareness. With 2017 being the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, it is fitting that this year WTM London plays host to more responsible tourism sessions than ever before, with almost 30 panels taking place across the three days. Overtourism will also look at other topics currently getting a lot of attention, such as what the industry can do to fight plastic pollution and protect its oceans; how it can fight trafficking in its supply chain; and animal welfare.”
More than 80 conference seminars will take place throughout the three days covering all the key sectors pertinent to the Middle East, including aviation, hotels, wedding and honeymoon, gastronomy, sports tourism, responsible tourism, digital influencers, social media and travel technology. Among other highlights is the 300-seater WTM Inspire Theatre, a taste of ILTM joined by a new Wellness & Spa section on the exhibition floor, the WTM Speed Networking, and the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit. The 2017 edition of World Travel Market London’s sister show, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), witnessed a 10 per cent increase in visitors from the GCC and a 7 per cent increase in international visitors to the event. For the second year in a row, more than 28,000 visitors attended the show, a 71 per cent increase over the last five years. The next edition of ATM takes place from April 22-25, 2018, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).