ATM 2018: Northern Emirates popular among GCC visitors

Arabian Travel Market

Data released ahead of this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has revealed that GCC visitors are driving demand in the UAE’s Northern Emirates, contributing over 30 per cent of hotel check-ins.

The data highlighted that in the emirate of Fujairah, GCC residents contribute 39 per cent of occupancy, while this market contributes 34 per cent in Ras Al Khaumah and 34 per cent in Sharjah. This trend is anticipated to continue.

Senior exhibition director, ATM, Simon Press remarked: “The Northern Emirates are becoming increasingly popular, especially with GCC visitors, as Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah all recorded significant growth from the regional market in 2017.

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“There are many reasons. Improved transport infrastructure has certainly boosted staycations particularly from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and visitors from Oman, as well as new luxury properties and a host of new attractions has boosted arrival numbers. With the launch of a shuttle bus service between Dubai International Airport and Ras Al Khaimah, visitors can be transported to the northern emirate within 45 minutes,” he added.

Emphasising this growth, during last year’s ATM, the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees wishing to conduct business with the UAE rose by 54 per cent compared to 2016. Adding to this, the number of UAE visitors to the show has jumped by 38 per cent over the last five years.

At ATM 2018, over 60 UAE exhibitors will partake in the exhibition, including three new additions: Desert Gate Tourism, A.A.Al Moosa Enterprises and Carlton Hotels & Suites.

Press declared: “Just as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have their own unique set of visitor attractions, we now see the northern emirates carving a stronger identity, supported by their respective tourism authorities, and this has underlined the growth in visitor numbers and the resulting performance of key metrics that we have seen.”

The Northern Emirates are evolving their tourism portfolios, and one such example is Ras Al Khaimah, which aims to more than double its hotel rooms from 6,200 to 12,800. The emirate also plans on attracting one million visitors for the first time in 2018, with adventure tourism playing a key role in making this happen.

Home to nature, culture and heritage, Sharjah witnessed a healthy increase in international arrivals in 2017, and although traditionally dependent on domestic visitors, overseas arrivals are on the rise. Its current pipeline stands at 2,200 rooms.

Meanwhile, Fujairah’s hotel industry has evolved in recent months, with the closing of the old Hilton Fujairah and the debut of new properties operated by Emaar Hospitality, Fairmont and InterContinental. The emirate will add a further 600 keys to its current stock of 4,300 rooms.

Press concluded: “The last 12 months have set the stage for more record-breaking arrival figures and hotel pipelines across the UAE. In line with their 2020 targets, each emirate is working hard to attract its share of domestic and international tourists and, as the figures demonstrate, their efforts are paying off.”