Dubai World Trade Centre became the epicentre for the latest innovations and industry news coming out of the travel and tourism sector, with the 23rd year of the Arabian Travel Market attracting over 26,000 visitors . Highlights from the four day exhibition included striking stands from emerging destinations each vying for Gulf tourists, virtual reality from Etihad Airways, teasing their upcoming film featuring Nicole Kidman and remarkable panel discussions with industry experts from the ATM Global Stage.
If you didn’t make it to the show, we’ve put together some of the highlights from the four days:
Qatar Airways to grow 36% in the next 12 months
Talking to John Strickland, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker revealed growth plans for the Qatar carrier as they plan to increase their operation by 36% in the next twelve months, which is to be attributed to the 36 new aircraft they have on order and a total of 19 new route launches.
The airline has also revealed its new luxury lounge at Dubai International’s Concourse D. Located near Gate 15, the lounge will cater to first and business class passengers, as well as privilege club platinum and gold members.
"The Qatar Airways customer experience has been the cornerstone of our business from day one; it is the driver behind our success and a key point of difference amongst our peers in the industry," he said.
"By continuing to evolve the experience we offer to our customers we stay ahead of the curve, whether we do so by introducing the newest aircraft to our fleet, collaborating with Airbus to develop the next generation of aircraft, introducing new destinations, improving our on-ground offering with exclusive lounges, in the air with Wi-Fi and through our product with totally unique designs. Qatar Airways as a brand represents innovation and evolution in the industry, and we are proud to be the flag-bearers of change."
Emaar Hospitality Group announces expansion
Emaar Hospitality Group also announced its expansion plan, highlighted by 35 new hotels and serviced residences to open under its three flagship brands - The Address Hotels + Resorts, Vida Hotels and Resorts and Rove Hotels - in Dubai.
"In just eight years since our inception, we have developed three compelling hotel brands with distinctive niches. Today, we are taking our home-grown expertise to international markets and newer geographies. The scope and scale of our expansion is set to establish Emaar Hospitality Group as a premier provider of world-class hospitality not just in the UAE but globally," said Chris Newman, corporate director of operations at Emaar Hospitality Group.
The new openings will take the total number of new hotel rooms being added by Emaar Hospitality Group in the UAE to 3,835 and the number of new serviced residences to 4,249. Internationally, Emaar will add to its portfolio 707 hotel rooms and 833 serviced residences.
Emaar also revealed that The Address Downtown Dubai will not reopen this year following the fire on New Year’s Eve, the hotel is currently being redeveloped.
Oman set sights on international visitors
The Ministry of Tourism, Oman, announced that the country plans to more than double the number of international visitors in the country over the next two decades as part of its new national 2040 Tourism Strategy.
By 2040 the country wants to attract over five million international in addition to the same-day visitors and domestic tourists, making the tourism business one of the most significant in the country generating over six per cent of annual GDP.
Local hotel group, Taameer Investment, announced it’s plans to support this goal with the announcement of its third luxury property, Shaza Muscat, which is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2019.
The hotels namesake, Shaza Hotels, will open 6 new properties across the Middle East by 2020.
UAE set to welcome increase in Mid-Market Travel
The overarching theme of the 2016 Arabian Travel Market was mid-market travel as the region aims to attract the middle-class travellers from China, Africa and India.
“This has been identified as both an underdeveloped and potential growth area for the region, driven by demand from the growing middle-class markets such as China, India and Africa combined with budget Generation Y travellers and young families,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, exhibition manager, Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
This sentiment was echoed by the many regional hotel groups announcing growth plans for the middle class market.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is expecting to record more than 40 percent growth across the Middle East in the next three to five years, with 25 new hotels in the pipeline. The company said in a statement that it is placing a special focus on midmarket hotels, with many GCC states addressing the lack of affordable options for low-budget and family travellers.
This also comes with the announcement from Emaar Hospitality Group of their new brand Rove Hotels aimed at midmarket travellers.