In Focus: Arabian Travel Market 2015 ATM 2015 is running from 4-7 May and will encompass ten halls at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

By Aby Sam Thomas

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For an event that started out with aims to become the Middle East's version of the World Travel Market (a UK-based event for the global travel industry), Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1994. "The dramatic growth of the show from just 2,000 sq. m. in 1994 to just under 25,000 sq. m. (and 33,000 exhibitors/visitors) in 2014 reflects the amazing rise to prominence of the tourism sector in the region, and Dubai especially," says Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager, ATM. "ATM 2014 welcomed over 2,700 exhibitors, with 420 main stand holders and exhibitors from 83 countries, as well as 66 national pavilions. A total of US$2.1 billion worth of business deals over the four days were signed."

Nadege Noblet, Exhibition Manager, ATM. Image credit: ATM.

With the previous iteration of the event having been this successful, no less is being expected from ATM 2015, and all signs point to it being bigger than what it was before- Noblet reveals that the exhibition running from 4-7 May this year will encompass ten halls at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. The scale of the event makes it a must-attend event for entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs looking for opportunities in the travel and tourism industry, with Noblet noting that there is a broad spectrum of buyers and sellers attending ATM, which include tour operators, hotels, airlines, technology companies and more. "In terms of buyers, there is a mix of travel agents, hotel owners/ investors, group travel organizers, online travel companies, incentive travel agencies, leisure travel agencies, tour operators, wholesalers and the medical tourism industry," she says. "All in all, a large platform for SMEs to delve into the tourism arena."

A scene from ATM 2014. Image credit: ATM.

"In terms of brand exposure, the show welcomed a record number of visitors from 131 countries last year," she adds. "This in itself marks a huge opportunity for increased brand identity and exposure to potential new markets and clients for exhibitors and sponsors. In terms of meetings, ATM is the premier event with 14,838 meeting requests made through the show's online diary networking tool in 2014. This again highlights the opportunities for exhibitors to make those all-important connections." Noblet also indicates the show's theme on family travel as being indicative of where the business opportunities are in the market right now. "According to Thomson Reuters' data, the value of the global family tourism market was $140 billion in 2013," she says. "That figure is set to rise to over $180 billion by 2018, with growth expected to continue at a rate of 4.79% annually until 2020, compared with just 3.8% overall tourism growth. Although family travel is growing, these contrasting spending patterns present strategic challenges as well as opportunities for government bodies, hotels and tourism service providers throughout the region, with a clear need for a wide spectrum of family-focused offerings to satisfy budget sensitivities, as well as cultural expectations."

ATM 2015 at a glance

  • Main stand holders: 400+
  • Exhibiting companies expected: 2,700+
  • Number of countries represented (booked exhibitors only): 86
  • Visitors expected: 23,000+
  • Number of countries represented (pre-registered visitors only): 152
  • New exhibitors: 113
  • Country pavilions: 64
Aby Sam Thomas

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East

Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.

Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.  

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