ATM 2017: The rise of retail tourism


According to a report by Colliers International, released ahead of the fast-approaching Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, hotels located in and around the region’s shopping malls can expect a 25 per cent higher Average Daily Rate (ADR) than hotels that are not co-located with a major retail development.

Senior exhibition director, ATM, Simon Press remarked on the topic: “In the UAE, the idea of a combined retail, leisure and entertainment destination has really taken off. We have hotels attached to malls and, as such, these are much sought after properties. There is massive demand for urban tourism from Indian, Arab and Chinese visitors.”

Press continued: “Since the opening of Mall of the Emirates in 2006, the number of hotels and serviced apartments in the area has risen from four to 58 in 2017, totalling 8,654 keys. While only two of these hotels are physically part of the mall building, the remaining 56 have also demonstrated strength across all performance metrics.”


Leisure tourists now consider shopping malls and the facilities within these establishments an integral part of their trips, and due to this, hotels are increasingly introducing promotional packages, free transportation, marketing discounts and vouchers.

Each year, the number of retail and entertainment centres opting to exhibit at ATM increases. This year, the exhibition will welcome 401, including: Al Shaab Village, Sharjah; Chic Outlet Shopping; Fashion Arena Prague Outlet; Freeport Lisboa Fashion Outlet; Istanbul Shopping Fest; La Roca Village in Barcelona and Las Rozas Village in Madrid; and Westfield Europe.

On a regional scale, the UAE has the strongest retail tourism sector in MENA, with Dubai taking the lead among the emirates, and retail accounting for more than 40 per cent of total tourism spending. The emirate’s strength has also been reinforced by the introduction of retail events throughout the year, including Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises.

While Dubai and Abu Dhabi have more than 626,887m2 of retail space currently under development, other major GCC cities, including Muscat, Riyadh and Doha, are following suit.

Oman is set to welcome the Palm Mall, spanning 157,000m2 later this year, which will feature the Oman Aquarium, an indoor snow park, cinemas, food courts, an amphitheatre and a hypermarket. The country is also set to welcome Al Araimi Boulevard Mall, which covers 128,000sm2 and will feature a dedicated kids’ zone, hypermarket, fashion brands and F&B outlets.

Meanwhile, in Riyadh, the KSA, there are two mega-projects planned, one of which is the Mall of Arabia, slated for 2018. Highlights including landscaped gardens, water features, retail stores and a co-located hotel. This will be joined by the first phase of the Mall of Saudi in 2022, comprising shops, restaurants, entertainment areas, offices, a hotel and indoor ski facilities.

Finally, Qatar’s retail landscape has been enhanced with the 500,000m2 Mall of Qatar, while this year will see the opening of Doha Festival City, which will house four theme parks and entertainment concepts, 500 stores and a luxury hotel.