DUBAI: 16 May 2021 was a momentous day as the 28th edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the region’s largest travel and tourism showcase, returned to Dubai in person this morning to shine the spotlight on Tourism For a Brighter Future. For the very first time in over 18 months, ATM Dubai opened welcomed back the travel industry to meet and connect face to face. It was all excitement and buzz on the show floor with the return of long-awaited reunions and beautiful, impactful stand designs.
With 2021 ushering in a new dawn for travel and tourism, leading industry figureheads from around the world kicked off the discussion on the ATM Global Stage as they explored factors delivering the sector’s fast-paced recovery. Vaccinations, market segmentation, and innovations in tech, travel corridors, marketing, and product diversification were all highlighted as drivers for significant recovery by 2023.
ATM 2021 was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and Founder of Emirates Group, and Chairman of Dubai World at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). And then the world saw the start of something great; a New Dawn for Travel & Tourism was underway.
Addressing the audience this morning, His Excellency Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said, “To see true recovery in travel and tourism, countries need to accept that COVID-19 exists and that we need to learn to live the new COVID-19 normal.”
“Since the beginning, Dubai has shown remarkable resilience in dealing with the pandemic. Taking decisive action at the right time, 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 to both domestic and international travel. With the number of COVID-19 cases stabilising, due to high vaccination rates and some of the highest testing rates in the world, we can expect to see a further easing of restrictions in Dubai in the near future,” he further added.
Other notable speakers on the panel were Dr Taleb Rifai, Chairman ITIC & Former Secretary General United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); Scott Livermore, Chief Economist of Oxford Economics Middle East, Dubai; and Mr Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director, Maldives Tourism Board.
Elsewhere on the agenda on the ATM Global Stage, tourism ministers and key industry stakeholders from the Gulf and Southern Europe convened during the Tourism Beyond COVID Recovery session to discuss the vast opportunities for travel, tourism, and hospitality presented by the potential return of mass leisure tourism, medical and educational travel, business events and beyond that, cross-cultural exchange and collaboration.
This was followed by the ATM China Tourism Forum, which highlighted the continuing importance of China as a major source market for many MENA destinations, and examined the imminent return of inbound tourism from China as destinations including Dubai near “COVID-19 safe” status due to the success of their domestic vaccination drives.
Meanwhile, delegates at the ATM Travel Forward theatre heard from world-class technology experts discussing industry-leading insights about the role of technology in the future of travel.
“Technology plays a critical role in facilitating the restart of global travel and tourism in the wake of the COVID-19 bounce back,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market. “The discussions taking place at ATM Travel Forward highlight the readiness of travel businesses to face the new realities of the industry and provide a valuable forum for identifying the new technologies and innovations essential to restore travel confidence.”
Throughout the four-day event, ATM 2021 will feature 67 conference sessions with over 145 local, regional and international speakers. On the Global Stage, attendees will also be able to attend the hotel industry summit, the ATM Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit: Transformation through tourism, an International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC), as well as an aviation panel, and a special session on lessons learned leading to recovery and on-going resilience in world travel.
One of the highlights of the first day was the much anticipated opening session, moderated by Becky Anderson, Managing Editor, CNN Abu Dhabi & Anchor, and speakers including HE Helal Saeed Al Marri, Director General, DTCM and other leading industry figureheads from around the world discussed factors delivering the sector’s fast-paced recovery.
Other events included:
- Session highlighting the critical role that travel and tourism plays in long term sustainable economic recovery of the Middle East,
- Panelists call for unity from countries across the world to work together to overcome the pandemic,
- Opportunities for the return of mass tourism, the revival of Chinese outbound tourism and the use of technology in a new reality for travel and tourism.
All in all, it was a great first day, and the coming days look just as promising.