Wednesday, January 24, 2018
WTM London To Help Grow Middle East Tourism Numbers

With Expo 2020 on the horizon and a successful push to diversify economies away from a reliance on hydrocarbon receipts, travel professionals from the Middle East are heading to WTM London in November, in confident mood as they look to achieve a greater share of the multi-billion-dollar international travel market.

WTM London (6-8 November), the leading global event for the travel industry, witnessed more than 51,000 participants in 2016, including 9,900 buyers conducting business worth over US$3.77 billion. And organisers are predicting a record year for 2017, boosted by a strong contingent of exhibitors from the Middle East region.

According to figures from the UN’s World Tourism Organisation, UK tourists continued to flock to the UAE in 2016 – up 5% in Dubai and 3% in Abu Dhabi, despite the pound shedding over 16% of its value against the US dollar since the referendum result to leave the European Union.

There was also a definitive resurgence in Russian visitors (+14%) after the UAE’s implementation of visas-on-arrival.

While Oman saw steady growth in visitors from Europe, with Britain and Germany among the top five tourism generating source markets. GCC nationals topped the number of tourist arrivals, followed by tourists from India, Britain and Germany.

Key exhibitors from the region this year include: Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ajman Tourism Development Department, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Jordan Tourism Board. Other new exhibitors from the region include: Solar Empire Travel, Azar Gasht Aseman Ltd., Baghdad Hotel Company and Kurdistan Tourism.

WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in the Middle East was US$227.1 billion (9.1% of GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 5.2% in 2017, and by 4.8% pa to US$381.9 billion (9.7% of GDP) in 2027.

“There are exciting times ahead for the Middle East, not least with the UAE set to host Expo 2020, with Dubai alone forecasting 160,000 hotel rooms in the emirate ahead of the world showcase opening.

“Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see the large number of exhibitors already signed up for WTM London. It’s a reflection of the burgeoning growth in that part of the world and how the travel trade there recognises that WTM London is an important platform to both conduct business and boost awareness.”

More than 80 conference seminars will take place throughout the three days covering all the key sectors pertinent to the Middle East, including aviation, hotels, wedding and honeymoon, gastronomy, sports tourism, responsible tourism, digital influencers, social media and travel technology.

Among other highlights is the 300-seater WTM Inspire Theatre, a taste of ILTM joined by a new Wellness & Spa section on the exhibition floor, the WTM Speed Networking, and the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit.

Press added: “With 2017 being the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, it is fitting that this year WTM London plays host to more responsible tourism sessions than ever before, with almost 30 panels taking place across the three days.

“As well as Overtourism, 2017 will also look at other topics currently getting a lot of attention, such as what the industry can do to fight plastic pollution and protect its oceans; how it can fight trafficking in its supply chain; and animal welfare.”

The 2017 edition of World Travel Market London’s sister show, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), witnessed a 10% increase in visitors from the GCC and a 7% increase in international visitors to the event. For the second year in a row, more than 28,000 visitors attended the show, a 71% increase over the last five years. The 2018 edition of ATM takes place from 22-25 April at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC).

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