DUBAI — Arabian Travel Market celebrates 25th years this year and opened last Sunday for four days at the Dubai World Trade Center. The event provided business networking opportunities and insightful seminar sessions with deals worth over $2.5 billion. It is estimated that the market had 2500 exhibiting companies and 40,000 visitors from 150 countries.
Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director at ATM, said “the tourism industry in the GCC has grown ten-fold and more since we first opened our show doors 25 years ago.” Figures published ahead of ATM show that GCC capital investments in tourism infrastructure are expected to reach $56 billion by 2022. The lightening-speed, innovative Hyperloop train system combined with the Haramain High-Speed Railway, the development of the key international airports in Saudi Arabia and airport expansions in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait are just some of the projects set to transform tourism infrastructure development in the GCC. The air passenger arrivals to the GCC are forecast to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 6.3 percent from 41 million in 2017 to 55 million in 2022.
Hafsa Mbamba, the founder and managing director of Destination Zanzibar, said this is the second time to take part in ATM and added that they provide different options for visitors to Zanzibar and Tanzania. “We have an increased interest from GCC people look for luxury holidays, family holidays, we offer safaris, diving exposure to culture and heritage. Up till now most of our visitors are Europeans but visitors from GCC are steadily growing,” explained Mbamba.
At another booth stands Karla Vojvodic, the acting manager at the study Tours Department of Croatian National Tourist Board Croatia. She said they have groups visiting from Saudi Arabia and Dubai but they are keen to attract more visitors from GCC. She too noted that they have luxury vacation options and affordable deals. People she said can explore nature and they may come for summer or winter seasons. An individual may stay in one of the suggested destinations in Croatia for six days and spend 2000 euros, not including tickets. Aside from natural sights the country also offers different health tourism options to visitors from the GCC region she noted.
Meanwhile, the halal travel market for Muslims has “graduated from its niche status to become an industry-shaping force in its own rights” said Omar Ahmad founder and CEO of Sociable Earth. They have lately conducted a massive survey which included 35,000 Muslim travelers to provides practical travel information to Muslim travelers.
According to the survey, non-Muslim countries should increase their variety of Halal food in the hotel, list nearby mosques, and halal restaurants and offer private pools to attract more Muslim guests.
The survey found out that 30% of the votes favored Dubai as the most aspirational holiday destination followed by Turkey, Maldives, Malaysia, and Mauritius. Singapore, Australia New Zealand, and the UK each polled 5.6 percent with the US on 5.5 percent. Up to 78 percent of the respondents selected their holiday destination as a family while 73 percent spend $2000.