Next year’s edition of the Arabian Travel Market, which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 19-22, will have a MICE-focused theme, entitled ‘Events for Tourism Growth’.
Data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reavealed that the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the Middle East’s GDP is predicted to rise by 4.2 per cent a year to $133.6 billion by 2028. This is expected to be driven by additional tourists to the region as a result of mega-events, major sporting and political events, cultural festivals, concerts and MICE events.
Exhibition director ME, Arabian Travel Market, Danielle Curtis declared: “Events of all kinds have become increasingly important drivers for international arrivals to the UAE, GCC and wider MENA region over recent years. With this in mind, ATM 2020’s spotlight theme will be launched as a platform to explore the impact events have on tourism growth in the region and to inspire the travel and hospitality industry about the next generation of events, while bringing together senior travel executives to meet and conduct business under one roof over four days.”
Between 2016 and 2018, Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s major exhibition centres recorded a 14 per cent rise in footfall, with Dubai World Trade Centre welcoming 3.4 million visitors in 2018 and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, combined with Al Ain Exhibition Centre, welcoming over two million during the same period.
Expo 2020, starting in October 2020 and concluding in April 2021, is expected to be the largest event to be held in the Arab World. It will feature 192 pavilions from countries around the world, with over 25 million visitors expected.
Expo 2020 organisers are predicting 11 million visits by people living in the UAE and 14 million from overseas visitors. According to consultancy firm EY, this will provide a $33.4 billion boost to the local economy – supporting the equivalent of 49,700 full-time jobs a year.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next 10 years. This, combined with more relaxed access to visas, will significantly boost the country’s popularity, with entertainment activities in the Kingdom set to attract 25 million visitors by 2021.
Curtis further noted: “Looking at 2018 alone, exhibitions across Saudi Arabia witnessed a 103 per cent increase in visitation with a total of 61 major events taking place over 349 days.
“Last year was also a milestone in terms of sporting events for the country, with events such as the King Salman Tennis Championship, WWE Crown Jewel and Formula E taking place in the Kingdom,” she concluded.