Race to net zero in focus @ATM

The 30th edition of Arabian Travel Market takes place in Dubai, with a record number of exhibitors attending the event from all over the world. Sustainable travel and working towards a common goal of practicality for net zero is the way forward this year. Danielle Curtis, Exhibitor Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, shares more details with TRAVTALK.

Shehara Rizly

Could you elaborate about this year’s theme and its importance?

The growing sustainable travel trend is undeniable, as such sustainable travel will represent the central focus of ATM 2023, under the theme of Working Towards Net Zero. The 30th edition of ATM will drive home the importance of working towards net zero, showcasing the practical steps that are being taken across our industry to achieve regional and global sustainability goals. This year’s show will provide an ideal platform for industry players to engage with sustainability experts and their peers to address the challenges ahead. In addition, we will also be unveiling a dedicated sustainability pledge, not only to make the ATM 2023 event more sustainable, but to announce 30 long term goals, as we work towards net zero in line with the RX Global pledge. Moreover, ATM can support and raise further awareness of COP28, which takes place at Expo City Dubai in November.

How will this year be different from last year, especially after all borders are now open?

We are expecting more than 34,000 attendees from over 150 destinations, including over 2,000 exhibitors. Exhibitor participation will be 27 per cent higher than last year, with growth across all show sectors. These include regional upticks for the Middle East (15.1 per cent larger), Europe (30.9 per cent larger), Asia (18.6 per cent larger) and Africa (44.7 per cent larger), as well as representation from Travel Tech and hotels, which has expanded by 57.9 per cent and 23.5 per cent, respectively. We will also welcome back a number of destinations, after more than two years of travel restrictions. These include Rwanda Development Board, Tourism Department Seychelles, Montenegro National Tourism Organisation, Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, Czech Tourism Authority, Switzerland Tourism, Croatian National Tourist Board, Department of Tourism, Government of Goa and Nepal Tourism Board.

There are new destinations participating this year as well, such as Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo – INGUAT, West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, Mexican Caribbean/ Los Cabos and Chonburi Provincial Administrative Organization.

What are the special discussions that will take place this year? How many stages will you have?

Featuring over 150 speakers across 63 sessions, ATM will feature three stages:

Global Stage – hosting a range of sessions focused on pivotal industry issues such as hotels and hospitality, aviation and transport, M!CE and business travel, responsible tourism, workforce diversification, and emerging sectors.

ATM Travel Tech Stage – showcasing how cutting-edge innovations including artificial intelligence, the metaverse, cryptocurrency and big data are driving environmentally responsible tourism.

The brand-new Sustainability Hub – featuring dedicated sessions on sustainable travel trends and innovations, as well as providing the backdrop for the ATM 2023 Start-up Competition, where entrepreneurs will go head-to-head in a ‘Sustainable Tech Pitch Battle’.

As reducing carbon emissions is the way forward, how will ATM adopt sustainable best practice?

ATM is committed to reducing its environmental impact. RX has pledged to become net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of our industry’s commitment to net zero. Furthermore, in celebration of our 30th annual event, ATM will announce 30 short, medium and long-term sustainability goals, providing a roadmap to make ATM more sustainable and to support our corporate pledge.

What will your key sustainability objectives and expectations be from this year’s ATM?

Creating a roadmap in line with industry pledge via UFI (The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) and its roll out across the broader RX portfolio.

Initiating emissions measurement to calculate our carbon footprint moving forward.

Setting KPIs to reduce carbon emissions and creating long term action plans.

Raising awareness and achieving short term-goals.

Implementing an ‘Exhibitor Environmental Checklist’, introducing the Sustainable Stand Award and the brand-new Sustainability Hub.

As part of our commitment to ensuring the upcoming show is the most climate-conscious in its history, some of the initiatives introduced for ATM 2023 include:

  • Introduction of Best Stand Award Category with sustainable goals to encourage best practice.
  • Sustainable guidelines for stand builds.
  • Recyclable materials used across Show Feature Builds, carpeting, sustainable badge & wallets with plant silks for lanyards and recycled paper for show daily and yearbook.
  • No Single Use plastic across venue encouraged on the exhibition stands.
  • QR codes versus printed brochures.
  • Single host hotel for Media and Buyers to reduce carbon emissions through ground transportation.
  • Reduction in quantity of printed graphics/ signage for show and use of more sustainable material.
  • Paperless media centre.

Ultimately, we hope ATM 2023 will provide a platform for experts from across the Middle East and beyond to explore and shape our sector’s sustainable future.

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