Travel industry leaders discuss business at AVIAREPS Middle East Travel Caravan

AVIAREPS successfully relaunches its in-person AVIAREPS Middle East Travel Caravan after a two-year hiatus following the pandemic. More than 110 important travel industry professionals, media and travel influencers attended the event in Dubai and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last month.

TT Bureau

The travel roadshow saw key international travel brands and destinations gather under the one roof to meet with the UAE’s and Saudi Arabia’s key outbound travel agencies and professionals to develop new travel packages, itineraries and events tailored for UAE and Saudi Arabia-based travellers.

A total of 27 key international partners joined the 2022 edition of the AVIAREPS Caravan, including Qatar Tourism Board, The Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, Malta Tourism Authority, The Royal Commission for AlUla, Visit California, Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority and a host of international hospitality brands, airlines and destination management companies. In addition to meeting leading travel agencies, partners also had the opportunity to meet with popular travel influencers from the region, as well as join an intimate panel discussion industry thought leaders, that included representatives from Emirates Holidays, ITL World and Al Rostamani Travel, where they were updated on the latest travel trends and consumer travel requirements from the region.

Glenn Johnston, Vice President Middle East & Global Public Affairs, AVIAREPS commented: “As we head towards a post pandemic world outbound international travel from the Gulf countries continues to demonstrate a remarkably strong and quick return compared to all other major travel regions around the globe. Within this context it is extremely important and timely to hold such an event. By bringing the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s travel professionals directly in contact with such an exciting and eclectic mix of travel providers and destinations, I’m confident we will all see jointly crafted, attractive travel experiences and offerings to follow, that will no doubt create new travel trends for the coming months and 2023.”

Not only do travellers from the Gulf countries tend to travel more often than others, but they also tend to stay longer and have one of the world’s highest average-daily-spends while travelling. The luxury travel segment is particularly strong, as too is MICE travel, providing a multitude of opportunities for entities seeking to diversify their client mix.

Johnston added; “This year’s edition of the AVIAREPS Middle East Travel Caravan comes on the heals of Dubai EXPO 2020, which successfully concluded earlier this year. Many of this year’s caravan participants have decided to use this platform to continue the positive and productive momentum created during EXPO, and use it further strengthen their presence in the Middle East market. Personal networks and ongoing connections remain an essential ingredient for business success within our region. A key focus for us is to ensure that through our well-established industry networks both co-participants and our carefully selected Middle Eastern outbound partners see a return on their investment and a growth in their business. That is our commitment to these events.”

Among the distinguished guests were the Ambassador for the Republic of Mauritius in the GCC, His Excellency Showkutally Soodhun G.C.S.K. Speaking with TravTalk His Excellency mentioned the many efforts taken to attract GCC locals as well as residents to the destination. HE said, “First of all, we have now opened an embassy in Riyadh after 50 years and we have also opened a secondary general consulate in the world in Dubai, first in Mumbai and second in Dubai. Also now, we are working very closely with UAE and GCC to attract more visitors from these countries. In the past there were not many visitors coming to Mauritius from GCC countries, now all locals of GCC don’t need visa as have waived off their visa to enter Mauritius, now we are working on other residents who live in GCC countries to also receive visa on arrival upon identification. We are also looking at improving connectivity from GCC to Mauritius, currently we have Saudia and Emirates serving the destination. We are speaking with the hotels and airlines to package in a way to attract more guests to our destination whilst improving the many attractions in Mauritius for guests. Our hotels are located on the white sandy beaches and there are more shopping malls added to attract the GCC clientele. It is hassle free now to travel to Mauritius if you are vaccinated. There are many private jet passengers that travel from GCC to Mauritius.”

Malta’s delegation consisted DMCs and hotels which were more suited for the Middle Eastern travellers. Arthur Grima – Senior Manager Marketing at Malta Tourism Authority, shared, “We are in the interesting period of seeing the recovery of tourism from the pandemic. In fact, this year we are expecting to have around 2 million passengers from all our markets. Middle East is an emerging market for us and the type of tourists we receive are luxury travellers, interested mainly in more exclusive and boutique, private luxury type of hotels. We shared our diverse culture as various civilisations left their mark on their island, which is a significant attraction for visitors, also ours is the only language which is sematic but written in the Latin alphabet and this is very particular, its not just the language but also the gastronomy which is very varied and one can experience over 7,000 years of history. Connectivity to Malta from this region is easy with the daily flight on Emirates to Malta. We are trying to make ourselves known in the region.”

Brian Bartolo, Director of Sales and Marketing Radisson Resort and Spa Malta Golden Sands, said, “We are showcasing one of Malta’s five-star properties located on the north side of the island; it is blessed with its location, primarily it sits besides Malta’s Golden Bay beach enjoying Malta’s wonderful sunsets and it is a place that one has to visit. We have five different types of luxury suites, our best selling suites are what called the sense tower suites which sits by the water’s edge and they have just being refurbished two years ago.”

Chirs Micallef, General Manager Avon Brockdorff Services Limited, said, “This is a relatively a new market for us, we represent an agency Malta DMC where we specialise in MICE, events, groups and conferences, meetings as well as luxury travel so it was nice to meet people and showcase what Malta offers in this sector and it does offer quite a lot in this sector and value for money. A lot of people are not aware of the many offerings available in Malta so basically the agents asked questions about what you can do for incentives, is there enough conference space, facilities, hotels, also what I explained was that Malta is a small country its only 27km long and you don’t spend more time there. We also spoke about cuisine which is another attraction of the destination.”

Damon Camilleri Allan, Exclusively Malta, a luxury DMC in the Maltese islands, shared, “It’s a privilege to be here, it’s a unique situation as we represent luxury travel as well as small group travel, what that means is when we say luxury it doesn’t always mean the price tag rather the exclusivity, uniqueness and private nature of the experiences for guests. The uniqueness of our storyline in Malta is the ultimate Mediterranean experience because of our relationship with partners, artisans and farmers we can offer exclusivity which no one else can have which we believe our clients from this region would really appreciate.”

Grace El Khoury, Senior Business Development Manager Middle East, Intercontinental Malta, said, “We are trying to extend our market in the GCC, as you know Intercontinental is part of IHG and we want to explore the GCC market in Malta. The agents mainly inquired about our room inventory, as well as the surrounding areas as well as the meeting facilities for MICE business.”

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