This month marked the return of the first hybrid (in-person and virtual) travel exhibition since the pandemic. As the event is now rounding up, finishing today May 26, here are some highlights.
New Dawn for Travel and Tourism
Arabia’s Travel market is held each year in the Middle East where travel industries come together to showcase products and services pertaining to travel and tourism.
The event, aptly titled ‘New Dawn for Travel and Tourism’, began on May 16 and was opened by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group.
Despite strict safety measures, the event took place at Dubai’s World Trade Centre where there was space to accommodate 11,000 people spread across nine halls, along with exhibitors from 62 countries and travel trade visitors from over 100 countries. Airliners such as Emirates and Etihad both opened stalls to reintroduce their signature products and service enhancements – fine-tuned since the pandemic.
Emirates demonstrated their new premium economy seats and onboard products, whilst Etihad showcased their Etihad Wellness Service (including their hygiene face mask that doubles as a mask) and a giveaway of 10,000 prizes to attendees.
Connectivity and Demand
Besides providing a place for people to network and strengthen ties, the Event also offered countries from around the world the chance to discuss challenges, aims and objectives relating to travel and aviation, especially since COVID-19.
Emirates renewed their partnership with FlyDubai on May 17 by offering more seamless connectivity across 168 destinations by the end of May, whilst forging a new relationship with Indonesia on May 19 by signing a Memorandum of Commitment (MoC) at the event, outlining joint marketing activities to promote the country.
Additionally, the Event featured a 4-day conference where representatives of countries and key organisations expressed their views on their respective situations. The Middle East coming out strong with their perspective on business and tourism – despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus. Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority expressed: ‘‘While the travel and tourism sector was paralysed globally, Saudi Arabia kept moving,’’ and that ‘‘through our successful domestic tourism campaign [it] resulted in a 33% increase in spending, hotel occupancy was at 50%, and the number of Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs) within the Kingdom increased from 17 to 93.”
Indeed, it has been reported that the disruption caused by COVID-19 has inspired the UK and Europe to shift base to Dubai and the Middle East for future prosperity and potential – Saudi Arabia aiming to attract 100 million tourists per year by 2030. Elsewhere, Egypt and China expressed a similar aim. Egypt, represented by Khaled El-Enany, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities aims for 1 million tourists per month and to make a total of $8 billion in revenue. Whilst China, represented by Dr Adam Wu, CEO, CBN Travel & Mice aims for International travel to return to pre-COVID levels by 2023, forecasting that outbound traffic is to reach 88 million.
There was also discussion about the industry’s ability to meet the expected surge of travel demands that could ‘‘outstrip the availiblty of flights.’’ However Hussein Dabbas, Vice President of IATA Middle East and Africa expressed that “Domestic and regional leisure passenger traffic will recover first. This will be driven by massive pent-up demand, helped by relaxed ‘local’ restrictions and improved consumer confidence,” said Dabbas.
Consistency between airline and destinations regulations was also touched upon: Taleb Rifai, Chairman, ITIC, stated that “Governments must come together. They must work together. There is no sense in any country working on its own anymore” – that collaboration is key to success.
Issues pertaining to sustainability, hospitality and hygiene were also discussed at the Event but as reported by ATM, what remains the most challenging for the industry is the unpredictability of the coronavirus which makes medium to long term planning especially difficult.
So there we have it – it is very appropriate that the event tied in with the start of non-essential travel and our way out of coronavirus lockdowns – although the future remains uncertain for the industry, the event provided us insight on its strive for revival, safety and improvement – an outlook much appreciated by travellers alike.
Featured image: | © ATM
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