The year 2013 witnessed an action oriented Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which was held from May 6-9 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (DICEC). The event had approximately 87 countries on an exhibition floor space covering more than 22,000 square metres. HRH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai, officially inaugurated ATM 2013. Addressing the inaugural session of the seminar programme at ATM 2013, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman, Emirates and president of Dubai Civil Aviation, emphasised how travel and tourism had become the bedrock of Dubai’s economy over the past years since the event was inaugurated in May 1994. Industry thought leaders also discussed the future of the region and reflected on the growth that the region witnessed over the last two decades. Mark Walsh, portfolio director, ATM said that the growth of the event had mirrored that of the emirate, jumping from just 300 exhibitors in 1994 to more than 3,000 this year – during a period when Emirates’ passenger traffic rose from 1.9 million to 40 million last year. With a new tourism vision, the visitor target for 2020 has been set at 20 million and HE Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said this total would be significantly enhanced should Dubai win its bid to host the World Expo 2020 – a decision which is due to be announced in November. “In the past eight years, we have doubled the number of tourists and become the seventh most visited city globally. Growth rates ahead are expected to be the same as those achieved in the past years and these may rise,” he said.
Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2020
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, officially approved Dubai’s Vision for Tourism: By 2020, Dubai will welcome 20 million visitors per year, and the annual contribution made by tourism to the city’s economy will triple. The ruler of Dubai also noted that building a robust infrastructure with high capacity and providing quality high-end services to all the visitors of the UAE is an ongoing process that also necessitates keeping up the pace of development to meet the requirements of the global markets, bearing in mind changes that may occur in such requirements so as to preserve the country’s gains and earn more achievements in the tourism sector that is full of opportunities. He also highlighted the economic importance of the tourism sector. Dubai was able to double the number of tourists from only five million yearly to ten million tourists a year during the past eight years.
Developed by the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) under guidance from Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vision sets out how the city will both double its annual visitor numbers from 10 million in 2012 to 20 million in 2020, and increase the economic contribution of the tourism sector. Early estimates from a study currently being conducted indicate that the current economic contribution is in the range of AED100 billion. Saeed Almarri, said, “The strategy behind the Dubai Tourism Vision for 2020 will further leverage a sector which has been a central pillar in the city’s economic growth, success and diversification. It is based upon two central tenets: the first being to widen our range of tourism offerings across events, attractions, infrastructure, services and packages and to enhance the overall visitor experience from arrival to departure. The second tenet is to adapt our marketing approach in order to showcase Dubai to a wider audience and grow the conversion rate of awareness to bookings. There are a range of initiatives we will put in place in both of these areas which will work together to attract more visitors to the city and encourage them to stay longer and spend more money during their time with us. Our role at DTCM is to act as a facilitator of growth, harnessing the collective power of stakeholders in the city and deepening engagement with parties outside of Dubai, so that we deliver the vision.” The target of 20 million visitors will be achieved through meeting a number of objectives. First, maintaining existing market share of the outbound tourism of all source markets: economic and demographic factors will increase the amount of outbound tourists in each market, therefore maintaining Dubai’s existing percentage market share will deliver an up-lift in visitor numbers. Secondly, increasing awareness and consideration to visit in a number of source markets which DTCM has identified as having significant potential for growth, such as Latin America, China and the emerging economies of Africa. Thirdly, increasing the number of repeat visits, already a significant driver for tourism in the city. Meeting these objectives in addition to driving up the average length of stay (currently at 3.76 days) and increasing the amount of money spent by tourists during their visits will lead to the tripling of the economic contribution that tourism makes to the emirate’s GDP.
India at ATM 2013
The Indian contingent and participation at ATM 2013 which includes the government and the private players was encouraging. From hoteliers to tour operators from DMCs, Tea Board of India, Air India to spa and wellness companies, there were more that 50 participants from India. India projected itself as a multifaceted tourism destination, under the ‘Incredible India’ banner. The Indian delegation was lead by Girish Shankar, additional secretary, ministry of tourism (MoT), Government of India. State tourism boards of Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Kerala were also part of the delegation. The J&K delegation was lead by the tourism minister. The Gulf and Middle East are considered to be important markets for India. There has been a consistent increase in foreign tourist arrivals from the region into India over the past three years with the year 2011 having registered an overall growth of around 18.5 per cent over the previous year. Some countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Turkey have registered a significant growth and are emerging as major tourism generating markets for India from this region. Pramod Sarkar of Swagatam tours, mentioned that the India pavilion and participation has grown significantly over the years. From being the first company to participate at the ATM till today, the company has never missed out any ATMs till date.