Arabian Travel Market 2021: UAE’s tourism industry sees possible end to COVID woes

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Visitors at the Dubai pavilion on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market 2021 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, and CEO of Emirates Group, on Sunday declared the Arabian Travel Market – the region’s biggest travel and tourism event open.

Thousands of tourism, hospitality and aviation executives gather in Dubai’s World Trade Center, where the event is being held.

“Events like this clearly demonstrate that the worst is over… we’re thinking very much about post COVID era,” said Scott Livermore, Chief Economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, on the first day of the Arabian Travel Market.

“And looking over the longer term, with growth and diversification plans across the region, travel and tourism is a key pillar of those strategies,” said Livermore.

Dubai’s resilience

“Dubai has definitely shown a great deal of resilience over the last year,” said Helal Al Marri, Director General of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM).

“When COVID first started, from May last year, we opened to domestic tourism and in July we opened to international tourism,” said Al Marri.

“I think the key here is, the approach to this,” he added.

Pandemic changes

This year’s ATM features 67 conference sessions with over 145 local, regional and international speakers. The event includes a hotel industry summit, dedicated buyer forums for Saudi Arabia and China, an International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC), as well as an aviation panel.

The theme of this year’s show is ‘A new dawn for travel and tourism’ and the spotlight will be focused on the very latest ‘COVID-19’ news from around the world – vaccine rollouts, the current state of the industry and the outlook for the future.

A total of 62 countries are being represented on the exhibition floor this year such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, Cyprus, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the Maldives, the Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and the US.

A new hybrid format will mean a virtual ATM running a week later to complement and reach a wider audience.

Role of technology

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 provides a valuable forum for identifying the new technologies and innovations essential to restore travel confidence.”