Arabian Travel Market upbeat amid booming Chinese interest

ATM2018 takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre this April

Chinese arrivals to the GCC will surge 21 per cent to reach 2.5 million visitors annually by 2021, Reed Travel Exhibitions said ahead of its Arabian Travel Market (ATM) show this year, citing data published by Colliers International.

The data predicts Saudi Arabia will experience the highest proportionate increase in arrivals from China, up 35 per cent on 2016 figures. The UAE will follow at 20 per cent, with Oman at 12 per cent and Bahrain and Kuwait at seven per cent.

ATM2018 takes place at the Dubai World Trade Centre this April

GCC countries currently attract 1.9 per cent of China’s total outbound market, up from 1.3 per cent in 2012, however positive trends are expected to continue as 154 million Chinese tourists prepare to go abroad in 2018 and a predicted 244 million follow in 2022.

Moreover, the number of Chinese Muslims visiting the two Holy Cities is expected to increase from the current 15,000 annually, as China’s Muslim population grows to account for 2.1 per cent of the total population by 2030.

Further enhancing awareness of Arab culture in China, in 2017 Saudi Arabia loaned Arab artefacts from the pre-historic, pre-Islamic and Islamic periods to Chinese museums.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “Owing to its many business opportunities and new leisure attractions, figures show the GCC is poised to further capitalise on these trends over the coming years as millions of Chinese make their first international trip.

“Over the years, sentiment at ATM has reflected the growth in Chinese tourists to the GCC and today we have seen more businesses than ever before eager to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Chinese market.”

Reed Travel Exhibitions shares figures from ATM 2017, which show the number of delegates, exhibitors and attendees interested in doing business with China had increased 63 per cent on the previous year. The number of delegates arriving from China was up 28 per cent.

This year’s ATM, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 22 to 25, will host a discussion in the in the Showcase Theatre exploring the opportunities surrounding China’s 500 million millennials, with a presentation hosted by Chloé Reuter, founder of Reuter Communications.

On day two of the exhibition, the Travel Tech Theatre will host the panel discussion “What Middle East Businesses can do to capture the attention (and wallets) of Chinese luxury travelers”. The panel will be chaired by Reuter and consist of representatives from Dubai Tourism, Tencent’s WeChat and Emaar Hospitality.

Chinese exhibitors at ATM 2018 will include Guizhou Province and Fuijan Province, Zumata, XML Holiday, DidaTravel, Toursworld, DLC and Bonotel Exclusive.

ATM welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2017 event, including 2,661 exhibiting companies, signing business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion over the four days.

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