Saturday, June 15, 2024

Celebrating 30 years of ATM: ‘A testament to the tourism growth in the region’

The 30th edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is all set to open doors, under the theme of ‘Working Towards Net Zero’ on May 1-4, 2023. Speaking exclusively to ArabiaTravelNews.com, Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market says, the show’s growth is a testament to the growth of tourism across the Middle East region and the regions commitment to grow its tourism products. 

“Much of ATM’s growth over the years have been a direct result of the region tourism growth. Dubai’s connectivity and hub status today and its efforts towards putting the emirate and the region on an international platform has proven to be successful for us too. When we started, ATM was predominantly a MENA exhibition but with Dubai’s access and easy reach to all major international tourism and business destinations and with regional airlines working towards increasing connectivity, the growth was inevitable.” 

“Being our 30th year, this year we will reflect back at the decades on how tourism has grown and shaped the region. As in the previous years, ATM will highlight aspects of travel that are currently pivotal in determining the direction the industry will take moving forward. With that in mind, we have developed the theme ‘Working Towards Net Zero’ to explore and educate various innovative sustainable travel trends and why the industry must identify their own strategies, for their growth. Working towards Net Zero is also something that will remain ingrained into the show’s ethics this year and in all our future editions,” she added.

“Travel and tourism plays a major role in leading the region towards achieving their net zero ambitions. With COP27 held in Sharm El Sheikh last year and COP28 coming to Dubai in 2023, the theme will provide hotels and resorts, airlines and all travel professionals, a platform to they are working on their own sustainable strategies. We are already seeing regional airlines working towards embracing Sustainable policies to reduce the impact of air travel to the environment. We will use the the ATM platform to engage with sustainability experts to address the challenges of achieving net zero.”

RX (Reed Exhibitions), the organizer of ATM, have also taken a sustainability pledge, not only to make the ATM 2023 event more sustainable but have put in place 30 long-term goals as ATM works towards being net zero by 2040.

“We have made our pledge to become net Zero by 2040 and what that will actually mean is everything we do, in our operations, collaborations with suppliers and stakeholders, it will all start with measurements. We have to measure our impact on the environment and be able to set KPIs on how we move forward,” she added.

The exhibition has added several key initiatives, internally, in their journey towards sustainability. These include the removal of printed show guides, QR codes for scanning purposes and digital leads capturing to remove the need for exhibitor to hand out brochures.

“This year the show will have a Sustainability Hub, that will focus on learnings, best practices and educating the industry. We’ve also introduced an ‘Exhibitor Environmental Checklist’ and ‘Most Sustainable Stand’  to recognize exhibitors that have taken efforts to reduce their environmental impact and support the UAE’s net zero commitment,” she added.

The criteria will include the use of bio-degradable, reusable and recyclable materials for the stand build & features, digital marketing materials, limited single use plastics, reduced freight and logistics emissions, waste management, as well as recycling and or reusing the stand for multiple events, plus carbon offsetting initiatives. Other award category will include Best Stand Design, Best Stand for Doing Business, Best Stand Feature and Best Stand at ATM Travel Tech.

“By engaging our  stakeholders with tools and such initiatives, we want to set a benchmark for sustainability within the Middle East’s exhibitions space but also help drive climate-conscious decision-making about the environmental impact of their staff and the sourcing of materials, across the region,” Curtis added.

The ATM 2023 conference program will return this year, addressing various sustainability issues in the travel industry and across various sectors such as Destinations, Travel Technology, Aviation, Cruise, Investment, Recruitment, Hotels and Hospitality.

“The ATM 2023 conference program is being specifically developed to address innovation and best practices related to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues across the travel and tourism industry, with representation key figures across all travel sectors. From our ministerial debate about tackling Climate Change to using technology to enable sustainability tourism, implementing sustainability practice when booking travel and exploring what it means to be a Sustainable Destination, we have reached out to the best in the industry to join hands in educating the rest of the industry,” added Curtis.

“This year we expect to welcome more than 34,000 public and private sector travel, tourism and hospitality experts from around the world to ATM 2023 – including over 1,500 exhibitors from 19 destinations and representatives from over 150 destinations – making it the perfect platform for quality relationship-building and knowledge-sharing.”

“We are seeing the return of many Asian and European destinations, who were in varying stages of the post-pandemic recovery, last year. There has been a 38 per cent increase in hotel exhibitors, year-on-year, with strong representation from all major Hotels chains.

“With 23 million people coming to Dubai over the course of the six months, the Dubai Expo opened new markets, especially from the Latin America, to the UAE and the wider region and we are seeing an increased interest from exhibitors from that region as well.”

“Not to forget, the massive scale of tourism projects and investments that we are witnessing across the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This has resulted in a 24 per cent increase in the number of the new exhibitors representing new mega projects and developments like NEOM and the Red Sea Projects,” added Curtis.

This year, the Saudi Summit will take place on the Global Stage and focus on the importance of the Kingdom in reshaping the regional travel and tourism landscape now that mega projects are well under way. In addition to the summit, ATM 2023 will feature a host of Saudi exhibitors, including Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), flynas, Makkah Clock Royal Tower, Asma Hospitality Company, Eye of Riyadh, Itrip, Dur Hospitality, Sadana Real Estate Co, Saudi Amad for Airport Services & Transport Support and more.

“We are also seeing a 62 per cent increase in travel tech exhibitors, a very important sector for the industry today” she added. “Once again the Travel Tech Stage will provide a platform where industry experts and influencers will provide insights on how technology can bring real difference to your operations. There will be a panel sessions, interviews and presentations from technology providers across the global travel industry.

“So while recovery and participation was at its different stages last year, this year we are confident about crossing all per -pandemic levels of participation at ATM.”

Following the success of its hybrid approach in 2021 and 2022, Curtis is excited to go back to their original in-person model this year.

“Travel and Tourism is all about real-time experiences. And while we have had many learnings through our virtual events, ATM will always remain a space where the industry can meet, greet, reconnect and learn from each other. Having the virtual elements allowed us to keep the conversations going, but there’s nothing more important or more valuable in the hospitality, travel and tourism industry than meeting and conducting business in person.

“This year, we will work closely with our exhibitors and partners to help catalyze sustainable changes within the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector. We will join hands in educating and highlighting industry best practices and innovations and together, we are committed to ensure that the show’s 30th edition is its most sustainable yet,” she concluded.

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