|Arabian Travel Market booming|
|The Middle East's premier travel and tourism show, the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), opens in Dubai on Tuesday and has seen unprecedented growth, with 30 percent more floor space occupied than last year.
Over 1,400 exhibitors from 55 countries will occupy 11,800 square meters of floor space in the Dubai World Trade Center to showcase the latest destinations and products to visitors from 95 different nations.
The event's organizers are anticipating ATM's highest visitor turnout with this year's preregistrations some 35 percent up compared to the same time last year.
'Two heartening factors have emerged from the pre-registrations," said Tom Nutley, chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), the company organizing the event. "Firstly, visitors have preregistered from 95 countries, whereas the entire visitor turnout last year represented 84 countries. This suggests that we are now reaching new markets and a good many of those registered are visiting the show for the first time."
ATM, now entering its 11th year, is universally recognized as the leading travel industry event for the Middle East and Arab world.
RTE said the reason for this year's increase was because the countries of the Middle East had become top international tourism destinations.
"The number of tourists who came to the region in 2003 increased by nearly 10 percent to nearly 30 million. This surge comes as the result of major economic development and investment in the area's tourism infrastructure," said RTE. "Confidence in the Middle East and pan Arab region is high. Growth in tourism shows signs of returning to the predicted rate, with the Middle East forecast to reach an annual growth rate of 7.1 percent until 2020. This is well in excess of the world's average of 4.1 percent."
RTE said it has already begun work next year's show, to be held at the Dubai World Trade Center from May 3-6, 2005.
"We are in negotiations with the DWTC for additional space, and we expect to deliver a show of over 13,000 square meters," said Nutley.
Beirut,05 10 2004
Tarek El Zein
The Daily Star