Dubai – MENA Herald: Reed Travel Exhibition’s (RTE’s) annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016 roadshow series has arrived in Dubai, continuing the drive for key industry players to leverage marketing opportunities and explore leading industry trends ahead of the region’s largest travel, tourism and hospitality showcase taking place in April.
Over 140 industry partners and exhibitors representing major industry verticals are attending the half-day event at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). They will take part in interactive open forum sessions, with this year’s spotlight theme – mid-market travel – a key topic for discussion. The roadshow has already visited Ajman and Fujairah, and is moving on to Ras Al Khaimah, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain.
“Traditionally the upscale hotel segment has been driving regional hospitality sector growth for the last decade. However, as economies continue with long-term diversification plans led by massive infrastructure development and a future calendar of world-leading events, tourism markets are now recognising the potential demand for mid-market options,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, ATM.
Dubai’s hotel market saw the addition of 2,700 hotel keys in 2015, increasing the total supply to 67,100 keys, according to the Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) UAE Real Estate Market Overview for 2015. Dubai Tourism estimates that in the run-up to the emirate’s hosting of Expo 2020, between 140,000 and 160,000 extra rooms will be required, up from the current tally of 90,000 rooms, with an additional 10,000 rooms requiring refurbishment. This could 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, as per JLL data.
“Dubai continues to shed light on the importance and need for having quality, value driven midscale lodging projects. A number of highly attractive initiatives are set to encourage midmarket sector investment, including the release of government land plots for development, the increasing speed of construction permit approvals and the waiver of the 10% municipality room tax for four years,” said Amine E. Moukarzel, President of Louvre Hotels Group MENA.
Looking at those travelling within the region, studies support the notion that mid-market options are top of mind. Just over a third (36%) of leisure travellers now choose budget hotels when travelling for pleasure, with Asian expats the most likely to opt for low cost accommodation (52%) and 35% of all respondents stating that reasonable cost is one of the most important elements when considering a leisure destination, according to the RTE commissioned Q3 2015 YouGov Travel Oracle insight report. Furthermore, 41% of travellers interviewed had a per person trip budget of US$1,000 or less, thus putting cost high on the priority list.
“This clearly demonstrates the growing appetite of travellers for a wide array of accommodation options and offering mid-market options frees up additional visitor spend for other activities – something the UAE, and Dubai in particular, has led the way in when developing its tourism offering,” said Noblet-Segers.
The YouGov report also looked at business travel, with 15% of total respondents reporting a decrease in corporate travel budget over the last 12 months, which is highlighting an opportunity for mid-level brands to target a growing number of budget-conscious corporate travelers.
The visibility of special deals/promotions when selecting a hotel for business travel was also raised in the research, with 18% of those surveyed naming special offers as the top decision influencer.
The number of confirmed UAE exhibitors at ATM 2016, which includes individual emirate pavilions, currently tallies 136 companies with 10 new Dubai exhibitors including DUKES Dubai, Palazzo Versace Hotel, Nirvana Travel, Dubai Link Travel & Tours, Kite Tourism and Lavender Group of Hotels & Hotel Apartments.
“The successful annual roadshow series provides direct face-to-face support for exhibitors in key markets. This ensures they are up-to-date with the latest ATM developments, initiatives and marketing opportunities allowing them to maximize their ROI by being part of the region’s largest tourism, travel and hospitality event.
“This interactive exhibitor partnership is a core element of our strategy, and also works in tandem with the Dubai Government 2020 vision, and the emirate’s goal of welcoming 20 million visitors,” added Noblet-Segers.
ATM 2016 will build on the success of the previous edition with the announcement of an additional hall as RTE looks to add to its record-breaking achievements. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 15% to over 26,000, with the number of exhibiting companies rising by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion were signed over the four days.