2024 Arabian Travel Market draws record-breaking attendance

The 31st edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), held this year at the Dubai World Trade Centre from May 5-9, witnessed record-breaking attendance, with more than 46,000 industry professionals and 2,600 exhibitors from 160 countries.

This represents a 15 per cent attendance increase from the previous year, officials report. This boost underscores the resilience and continued momentum of the global travel and tourism sector.

In 2023, Dubai welcomed more than 17 million international visitors, surpassing even pre-pandemic figures. Visitors from the Americas account for seven per cent of this total. In the first month of 2024, Dubai recorded a 21 per cent increase in visitors over January 2023, showing that the recovery of the tourism sector is continuing. In January 2024, Dubai’s hotel sector had a total of 150,408 rooms across 823 establishments, with an impressive 83 per cent occupancy rate, and an average stay of nearly four nights.

The city’s continued growth aligns with its aim to solidify its position as one of the top three cities in the world, as reiterated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai early in 2024.

Informative sessions

Themed ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’, ATM featured sessions including, ‘Multi-Generational Travel: Considerations for the Middle East’, and ‘Influencing the Americas through Experiences, Adventure and Attractions’.

Anabela Radosevic, head of business development for Arabian Adventures, articulated the preferences of travellers from the Americas, and how they are inclined toward wanting to be immersed in the destination, and interested in culinary exploration, desert experiences, major amusement attractions, and sports events.

In the session on multi-generational travel considerations for travellers to the Middle East, Skyscanner’s head of destination partnerships, Zeynep Mutlu Bigali, spoke about their newly launched Savvy Search tool that uses AI to compare different offerings and prices, and plan itineraries, that may appeal to Gen Z.

During his opening address, H.E. Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Economy and Tourism told the audience that: “ATM is a moment where we can talk about the tremendous growth we’ve seen over the years, but more importantly we can talk about the strategies going forward and building relationships, making sure to capitalize on emerging opportunities in the industry, and allow the world to come together in one place and establish those connections.”

Dubai: for diverse audiences & budgets

Dubai is broadening its appeal toward a larger and more diverse traveller base.

At a media roundtable discussion, H.E. Issam Kazim emphasized that Dubai is a destination for all types of travellers, including families, couples, solo travellers, and offers a wide range of experiences including beaches, shopping, culture, culinary, wellness, entertainment, and desert and mountain adventure.

He described Dubai as a destination of “attainable luxury” suitable for every budget. Clearly, there is something for everyone, as 25 per cent of first-time visitors to Dubai return within a year.

Travel advisors remain critical

Travel advisors are key to Dubai’s tourism growth plans.

At a Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) media briefing during ATM, the CEO of Dubai Economy and Tourism spoke about how it is “…very important for DET to bring travel advisors to the city to genuinely experience Dubai firsthand. It’s very different when you read information or do research about a city versus experiencing it yourself. Creating familiarization trips
(FAMS) allowing advisors to explore the beauty of Dubai; and to get lost in in the city on their own, creates the magic and a deeper understanding of the destination”.

Dubai Tourism offers an online training program to earn a Dubai Expert Certificate. There are currently 1,000 global graduates and more than 30,000 Dubai expert participants.

The next Arabian Travel Market will be held April 28-May 1, 2025, at the World Trade Center in Dubai.

Direct flights from Canada to Dubai are operated by Air Canada and Emirates from Toronto and Montreal. This facilitates easy access to Dubai. Air Canada’s Vancouver to Dubai route is set to resume in late October 2024, with four weekly flights operating until the end of March 2025.

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Story and photos by Judi Cohen