Celebrating its 25th year, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the Middle East’s leading platform for tourism professionals and focal point for the region’s travel industry, will return to the Dubai World Trade Centre, from 22-25 April.
ATM 2018 will look to build on the success of last year’s show. Showcasing over 2,500 exhibitors and welcoming over 40,000 industry professionals, business deals worth US$2.5bn were agreed over four days – making ATM 2018 the largest edition in the show’s history.
These achievements wouldn’t have been possible without the tandem growth of the region’s hospitality industry, which, over the last 25 years has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing regional markets.
This year, Responsible Tourism – including sustainable travel trends – will be adopted as the official show theme for ATM 2018. Throughout the event, professionals from across the industry spectrum will demonstrate how, with the correct strategy in place, the tourism industry can expand its responsible credentials.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM said: “Tourism plays a vital role for GCC countries in their diversification strategies away from a reliance on hydrocarbon receipts. However, the industry must continue to evolve in a responsible fashion.
“It is crucial that we all work towards a tourism sector which protects the environment, preserves the cultural heritage of destinations and fosters respect for local communities everywhere.
“To that end, ATM 2018 will have a particular focus on responsible tourism, integrating it across all show verticals and activities, including sustainability-focused seminar sessions, featuring dedicated exhibitor participation.”
Today, the cities across the MENA region are home to some of the world’s largest tourism development pipelines. In total, the UAE has 194 projects and 55,264 rooms in the construction pipeline, while Saudi Arabia has 60,249 rooms and over 198 projects.
Despite the economic benefits, growth often comes at a price and, in the resource intensive hospitality and tourism industry, the environmental impact is multi-dimensional, from carbon emissions, water and energy demand, to food waste, noise and light pollution.
The UN’s World Tourism Organisation estimates that tourism is responsible for about 5% of global CO2 emissions. Accommodation accounts for approximately 20% of emissions from tourism, which includes energy demand, dining and leisure.
With guests increasingly looking to reduce their personal impact, the industry is now incorporating sustainability in business strategy. We have already seen a number of successful initiatives introduced by operators and authorities in the UAE, reducing the average carbon footprint of a hotel to within the global average range of 20,000-30,000 KGCO2E per room.
Demonstrating what can be achieved, in two short years the UAE will host the most sustainable Expo to date, with a record-breaking 20 million international arrivals expected.
In celebration of ATM’s 25th year, this year’s show will host a series of seminar sessions looking back on the tourism revolution in the MENA region over the last quarter of a century and also forecasting what lies ahead for the industry over the next 25 years.
Press added: “The tourism industry in the GCC has grown ten-fold and more since we first opened our show doors. Today we have the tallest buildings and tallest hotels; revolutionary transport infrastructure; theme parks and leisure attractions that are the envy of the rest of the world.
“ATM will reflect on this success, while exploring how the industry will shape up over the next 25 years, in light of economic uncertainties, huge technological advances and, of course, the increasing trend of responsible tourism.”
Debuting at this year’s event will be the ATM Student Conference – a programme aimed at students and graduates who are looking to pursue a career in the travel and tourism industry.
Taking place on the final day of ATM, this initiative will allow students to listen to key guest speakers and travel industry leaders. It will also help provide students with a greater understanding of the industry and potential career paths.
Following a successful launch last year, the second edition of the International Luxury Travel Market Arabia (ILTM) will return on the first two days of the show.
International luxury suppliers and key luxury buyers will connect via one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments and networking opportunities.
The Best Stand Awards programme will return for a fourth year, while the ATM Global Stage will welcome an array of high-level speakers who will cover a wide range of topics from future travel experiences, aviation and entrepreneurship to travel technology and halal tourism.
ATM will host the largest gathering of travel and lifestyle bloggers at the Digital Influencer Speed Networking, where they will have the opportunity to interact with exhibitors taking part in the show.
Further ATM calendar favourites returning for 2018 include the ultra-innovative Travel Tech Show as well as the Buyers’ Club and the Wellness Lounge which both offer excellent opportunities to meet and network with likeminded individuals and organisations.