Sunday 20, September 2015

Dubai – MENA Herald: Mid-market travel, which is a key growth segment for the region’s hospitality and tourism sector, has been selected as the official show theme for Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016, which will take place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre from 25-28 April 2016.

“Data released by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) revealed that up to 50% of the 3,600 new hotel rooms to enter the Dubai market in the final months of 2015 have a 3-star or lower rating, while competitive room rates are set to rival the luxury market, as 69% to have four stars or less according to research,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.

“This will add much-needed midscale room stock to the emirate’s hotel landscape, where three-star or below room supply only accounted for 29% of total availability in the first quarter of 2015,” she added.

Destinations like Dubai are already putting in place programs to encourage investment into midmarket hotels such as the release of government land plots for three and four-star hotel projects, speeding up of the construction permit approval process to just two months, and the waiver of the 10% municipality room tax for four years upon completion.

Dubai currently has a total hotel key count of approximately 94,000. This figure is set to rise to between 140,000 and 160,000 keys by 2020 with around 20% set to target the mid-market hotel sector. A host of global hotel brands and local UAE-based operators are targeting the aggressive brand expansion in this area, especially after the latest Knight Frank report.

The study revealed that the Dubai segment showed a year-on-year RevPAR increase of 0.5% during the first quarter of the year, which was driven by an increase in average rate at a time declining performance for the luxury and upper upscale segments. Demand is being driven by a growing middle class in markets such as China, India and Africa combined with budget Generation Y travelers and young families.

“There is massive pent-up demand for new midscale projects and this could also be the catalyst for a new wave of visitors for whom saving money on their hotel stay would free up their budget to spend in other areas from dining and attractions to shopping and excursions,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels, which has an active portfolio of properties covering both the upscale and midmarket segment.

“ATM will also be a great opportunity for hoteliers like ourselves to present the argument for investment into midrange hotels, which are cheaper and faster to build, and also require fewer staff once open for business,” he added.

Global mid-market brand Louvre Hotels, official show theme sponsor, will also be exhibiting at ATM 2016 with a focus on promoting a more affordable Middle East hospitality experience.  

“Budget airlines and affordable public transportation have been key to attracting the budget traveler and, at Louvre Hotels, we aim to continue to assist developers and governmental agencies by introducing unique modern offerings in the budget, midscale sectors. With over 55 hotels in the MENA region, we are a key player especially in the two to four-star range, and will continue to support a value for money offering,” said Amine E. Moukarzel, President, Louvre Hotels Group & Golden Tulip MENA.

As well as substantial representation from hotels with products in the mid-market sector, ATM 2016 has also seen interest and healthy growth from destinations from around the world, tour operators and tourist attractions all with mid-market product offerings. From an aviation perspective, flydubai and Flynas have already confirmed their participation at the 2016 show.  

The 2016 event will also grow with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to build on its record-breaking achievements this year, which saw total attendance increase by 12% to reach over 36,000 exhibitors and visitors.

Arabian Travel market forms part of the World Travel Market Portfolio, and comprises of the leading leisure travel events in the world; World Travel Market in London, WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo and WTM Africa in Cape Town, plus recently launched WTM connect Asia and WTM connect China, unique hosted buyer 1-2-1meetings events.

In 2014, the WTM Portfolio facilitated around US$7 billion in industry deals from negotiations between the more than 15,000 buyers, 9,500 exhibitors (1,500 main stand holders and 8,000 stand sharers) in attendance of its four events.