It was four days of pure networking between travel, tourism and hospitality industry partners at the first onsite trade show – Arabian Travel Market. Exhibitors from 62 destinations participated at this year’s edition along with buyers from 39 destinations, taking the total to 11,000 visitors. Industry leaders share their experience.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)
Since the beginning, Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in dealing with the pandemic. Using all the data available to us as a smart city to make decisions, and opening the economy sector by sector, with the right precautions being taken at each stage, has enabled the gradual recovery of the travel and tourism industry and allowed the city to open its borders.
His Excellency Mohd Tarid Bin Sufian, Ambassador of Malaysia to the United Arab Emirates
We cannot wait and are ever ready to welcome travellers from the Middle East to the shores of Malaysia once the border opens. To revive and rejuvenate our tourism industry, our National Tourism Policy highlights transformational strategies namely – strengthen governance, create special tourism investment zones, embrace smart tourism, enhance demand sophistication.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market
We’ve been working on this event for the last 18 months and ATM is the first global exhibition in over 18 months. It’s been an exciting time opening but it has been a challenge. However, the good news is that we have attendance from 101 destinations and represented on the show-floor we have 62 destinations with regards to our exhibitors.
Holger Mahnicke, Consul General of Germany in Dubai
Arabian travel market is very important for the German hospitality industry, we are very hopeful to receive again, the Emirati and other residents from the UAE to our country. In 2019, we had 1.6 million nights by UAE citizens and residents in Germany. So it’s a very important market for us also it’s vice versa because 567,000 German tourists came to Dubai in 2019.
Nia Nischaya, Deputy Marketing of Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy from the Republic of Indonesia
I think this is a good opportunity for Indonesia and the UAE. We have signed the travel corner arrangement, this type of arrangement enables us to move forward to welcoming back tourists. Now Bali will be the first destination and we are planning to open it. In Bali not only the tourism workers but also the people in the surrounding area will get vaccinated.
Nasir Jamal Khan, CEO, Al Naboodah Travel
We are all very excited and happy as it not only brings us the confidence, it makes us feel that it is a new beginning, we are coming back and I believe that we should all congratulate the UAE, especially Dubai for bringing back ATM, which brings back the connections between the travel trade, the connections between the travel agencies, DMCs, airlines and so on.
Jamal Abdulnazar, CEO, Cozmo Travel
I’m delighted to see this overwhelming ambience and atmosphere, so ATM 2021 is a very successful event. If you see the GCC side of the hall, every GCC country is there and every pavilion is busy with more serious buyers and exhibitors. There are proper introductions and total networking happening, that’s what ATM is doing.
Emre Ismailoglu, General Manager, Turkish Airlines Dubai and Northern Emirates
We are really very happy to be here as last year the event didn’t take place due to the pandemic. Things are now getting better and Arabian Travel Market is very important to us as it provides an opportunity to meet with our travel partners whom we could not meet for a long period of time.
Arijit Munshi, CEO, EMEIA Tune Protect
I must say it has been an absolutely refreshing change that we had this event and I think that it is very important to set the trend, there are a lot of policies in place in terms of social distancing, wearing masks and you have to get vaccinated. We want to go and meet people and this is a very important platform for people like us to connect with our customers.
Robert Ardino, Vice President, Blue Ribbon Bags
It’s actually quite refreshing to be at ATM physical as I flew in from New York just to be here for this event. The way it has been managed with social distancing and the way that they tell you to walk, all that has been great. I felt completely comfortable and it has just been great to reconnect with colleagues and friends that I had not been able to see in quite some time.
Namratha Rose, Manager – Marketing & Trade Relations, Spain Tourism – GCC – Tourism Division of Spain in Abu Dhabi – Embassy of Spain
ATM has always been a special event for the travel trade, and it was very promising to attend a physical event and meet clients and partners after a year. Though the numbers were less for obvious reasons, I felt that there were more productive meetings. Spain did not have a stand this year but we saw that most agents were keen on learning more about when things would be fine.
Pichaya Saisaengchan, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Dubai and Middle East Office
Thailand has been a frequent exhibitor at the ATM for the past two decades and I’m happy that ATM was a physical event. We in Thailand are so lucky to be the most popular destination for tourists from the ME and thanks to the ATM for providing us a great opportunity to meet our old friends in the tourism industry and make new friends from the industry.
Sapna Aidasani, Director Marketing, Pluto Travels
We have almost 80 countries participating and the kind of response I have seen here, I could never believe it would be this good. I got the opportunity to network with representatives from 45 countries across different continents like Africa, Asia, Middle East. The best thing is that we were actually getting first-hand information from the tourism boards of different countries, so we were able to understand when they were going to open, how many had already opened up, what were the requirements to travel there, was PCR important, etc. ATM has really allowed us to connect back, and it’s such a feel-good factor.
Alaa Mahmood, Camp General Manager, Bab Al Nojoum
It was actually a long-awaited event, we have been eagerly looking forward to be here, it’s a huge success, we are expecting this year to be the rise of the new dawn as they call it. We had lots of interactions, many meetings with future partners and we are really optimistic about the future. We have a unique property and it was not presented so far, so that is what we are promoting. It is a different camping base in different categories and it offers cost-effective options where the guests can stay in our tents but they are allowed to bring their own gear, sleeping bags, own food etc. Our other offerings include camping on wheels on the beach, luxury categories of duplex chalets with balcony, and many sports activities.
Yamina Sofo, Director of Sales and Marketing, German National Tourism Office in Dubai for GCC countries
GCC countries are the third most important overseas market for Germany so they’re extremely important for our tourism industry profits. In 2019, we had 1.6 million guests overnight, guests from the GCC countries. We’re very hopeful that by the end of 2022 we will reach pre-COVID figures as GCC travellers love to travel, especially to Europe – Germany is one of their favourite destinations and hopefully we will welcome them back very soon.
Samir Mehta, Advisor, Go Zahid Destination Management (part of Zahid Travel Group)
I must say it has been very uplifting to come back to a face-to-face interaction. This must have been my 20th ATM. But the fact that we are having a travel trade show after 12 months has been, I think, a tremendous positive sign as we look forward to the recovery from this pandemic, great engagement with people from the industry, hotels and the tourism board, and overseas visitors coming from different sorts of markets. And, you know, this is just setting the right tone for the return to normalcy and the positivity that we all need.
Mohamad Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels
ATM is the most important exhibition in the Middle East and as a company based in Dubai it is very vital for TIME Hotels to be here and support the UAE in their efforts amid the pandemic. This year I think that summer will be eventful because many countries have eased travel restrictions. I am optimistic about the future of hospitality industry, but we need to be cautious because the pandemic is not over yet.
Inputs by Shehara Rizly