Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 22 June 2020: Travel trade professionals from across the world gathered in their thousands to attend the three-day Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Virtual, which debuted on 1-3 June 2020.
The online event which attracted almost 12,000 attendees from 140 countries around the world, focused on the ME region’s tourism sector, addressed emerging trends, as well as the opportunities and the challenges which are directly impacting the travel and tourism industry amid the COVID-19 global health pandemic and beyond.
In total, the event facilitated 11,301 prescheduled one-to-one meetings, of which over 92% were rated four or five, out of five stars. A series of one-to-one pre-scheduled 30-minute meetings between editors, exhibitors, and buyers also took place, and 23 live video sessions included Q&As and polls which ran alongside the presentations to enable audience interaction. Overall, the webinars had more than 24,000 views over the course of three days.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), said: “Considering that this was a debut event, the outcome clearly validated our strategy to virtually support and guide the region’s travel and tourism industry. The resilience and determination to get through these challenging times was clearly evident.
“It also underscored our commitment to organise an event with positive and constructive business insight and opinion, as well as offering networking opportunities across the entire community.
“There were so many highlights during the event, that it would be extremely difficult to single out any particular session. The event was seamless, each session complemented the next and it is also fair to say that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.”
The highlight of the opening day was an interview with Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline. During a discussion with aviation expert John Strickland, Sir Tim predicted a degree of tourism recovery during the course of 2021, and expectations for Emirates to be operating its network prior to COVID-19 by 22/23, 23/24.
Another key event that took place on the first day was the Arival-run OTAs & Distribution for Tours & Attractions Post-COVID session, which explored the changes amid the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs), the re-opening of operations and what this means for tour and attraction operators across the Middle East.
The much anticipated The Virtual ATM China Forum took an in-depth look at the potential of the Chinese outbound leisure market post COVID-19’s closed borders and what overseas destinations and attractions can do to reassure and convince Chinese tourists, of whom 45% are willing to travel overseas, that their destination is safe to visit.
Other issues discussed included, technology, the role of international industry associations and the need for destinations to change their propositions, with a focus on safety, trust, and consumer confidence.
Another highlight of the second day was the live webinar ‘Bouncing Back: Tourism Strategies for the Future’ where Keith Tan, CEO, Singapore Tourism Board, underscored the importance of governments implementing ‘green lanes’ to aid tourism recovery and promote bilateral travel agreements. He cited the common standards Singapore and China have implemented to allow travel between the two countries.
The third and final day included the interview with Wizz Air CEO, Joszef Varadi where he confirmed his ambitions for the low-cost carrier’s impending move to operate out of Abu Dhabi, and their plans to have 100 aircrafts serving the GCC markets by 2035.
Other highlights on the final day included the International Travel Investment Conference summit, the responsible tourism session, ‘The Implications of COVID-19 for Responsible Hospitality’, and the Influencers’ session, ‘Make Your Connection: Influencers as a Key Part of the Marketing Mix – COVID-19 The Road to Recovery.
“As an organiser we have learnt a lot from this virtual experience and to give our seminar programme broader reach and greater inclusivity, we will certainly be looking to integrate more virtual elements into our physical show next year,” said Curtis.
The sessions and other content are now available on demand via the WTM Global Hub. To view, please go to: https://hub.wtm.com/atm-virtual/