Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024 – That’s a Wrap!

ATM 2024 | eTurboNews | eTN
Written by Linda Hohnholz

More than 46,000 industry professionals from over 160 countries – including 33,500 visitors – attended the 31st edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which concluded today (May 9) in Dubai, UAE.

The largest edition of ATM to date closed today following 4 days of impactful industry discussions and unrivaled networking opportunities across the MICE, leisure, luxury and corporate travel sectors. Today’s sessions will focus on the next generation of travel and tourism talent with the Educating Young Entrepreneurs: Building a Career in Travel session and the Network with Future Leaders event.

Elsewhere on the final day of ATM 2024, attendees took to the Global Stage to share their knowledge and expertise with the next generation of travel and tourism talent at the Network with Future Leaders session, which was attended by university students from around the UAE.

Meanwhile, the Sustainability Summit concluded four days of engaging industry summits today, exploring topics such as COP 28 Unpacked: Charting Travel’s Path to Sustainability and Leveraging Sustainability for Luxury Markets. A panel of 12 international speakers gathered for the final session on ATM’s Future Stage, addressing The Top Trends to Tap in 2024.

ATM 1 | eTurboNews | eTN
ATM 2024

Arabian Travel Market 2024 sees 15% year-on-year growth, setting a new show record with more than 46,000 attendees across four days.

This represents a 15% year-on-year increase in attendees compared to ATM’s landmark 30th edition, setting a new record for the show and demonstrating the strength, resilience and momentum of the global travel and tourism sector.

In line with ATM 2024’s theme, ‘Empowering Innovation: Transforming Travel Through Entrepreneurship’, over 2,600 exhibitors gathered at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) to explore the drivers behind industry growth and identify future opportunities within the global tourism sector.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “My colleagues and I are delighted that so many industry professionals from around the world were able to join us in Dubai to explore how innovation and entrepreneurship are shaping a more efficient, profitable and sustainable tourism sector for future generations. We are thrilled to have set a new show record, underscoring our position as the travel and tourism exhibition of choice as we continue to drive global growth within the industry.”

ATM 2024 welcomed His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, who chaired a meeting of The Executive Council during the show. H.H. Sheikh Hamdan approved a series of major transport and tourism-related projects in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

This year’s opening session saw policymakers from across the region explain how Gulf nations are working together to streamline the GCC’s tourism offering. The panel discussion, which took place following opening remarks from H.E. Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, featured insights from H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority; H.E. Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority; H.E. Azzan Al Busaidi, Undersecretary of Tourism at the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in Oman; and H.E. Sarah Buhijji, CEO of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority.

Experts on the Indian outbound market shared key insights during the session ‘Unlocking the True Potential of Indian Travelers’. Virendra Jain, CEO and Co-Founder of VIDEC, a travel, tourism and hospitality boutique advisory and analytics firm, provided details surrounding market opportunity assessments, channel and distribution analysis, characteristics and behaviours of Indian travelers, and projections of the market’s outbound travel trends over the next decade.

Panelists outlined predictions for the future of air travel and the importance of innovation in enabling the industry to accommodate the significant growth in air traffic during the session Looking Skyward for Innovation: How Technology is Disrupting Aviation’. Moderated by travel expert Mark Frary, the session featured insights from Cirium, IATA, AviationXLab and Riyadh Air.

InterLnkd overcame stiff competition to win the third ATM Start-up Pitch Battle, which was held in association with Intelak. The UK-headquartered company uses specific data points and an intelligent matching engine to link the travel and hospitality sectors with the fashion, beauty and retail industries.

Experience Abu Dhabi secured the Best Stand Design Award (over 150m2) at ATM 2024. An independent panel of judges praised the tourism authority’s exhibition space for its flowing design, innovative use of greenery and excellent visibility from the show floor. Other Best Stand Winners included AlUla, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, ExploreTECH, flydubai, Qiddiya Investment Company and Saudi Tourism Authority.

Held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, ATM 2024’s strategic partners included Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as Destination Partner, Emirates as Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as Official Hotel Partner, and Al Rais Travel as Official DMC Partner.

ATM 2 Travel Entrepreneurship Summit | eTurboNews | eTN
L-R: Gavin Gibbon, Senior Editor, Arabian Gulf Business Insight (AGBI); Amna Al Redha, Manager, Aviation X Lab; Mona Faraj, Co-Founder and CEO, ExploreTECH; Danny Cohanpour, CEO of Trove Tourism Development Advisors; Charaf El Mansouri, Co-Founder and CEO of Dharma; and Margaux Constantin, Partner at McKinsey & Company, at the Entrepreneurship Summit at ATM 2024.

Travel entrepreneur and startup funding is growing in the Middle East but more investment is needed, say industry experts at ATM 2024

Experts shone a spotlight on the Middle East’s travel investment ecosystem at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024, which concludes today, Thursday, May 9, at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) until Thursday, May 9. Panelists speaking during the exhibition’s entrepreneurship summit said levels of industry funding are growing in the region but that more needs to be done to support travel startups.

The Middle East’s contribution to global travel revenues currently stands at approximately 5%, which is comparable to the proportion of international startup funding it is attracting, according to data from McKinsey & Company. While levels of investment have increased significantly in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, speakers noted that funding for regional travel entrepreneurs is growing from a relatively low base.

Panelists participating in the Nurturing Travel and Tourism Entrepreneurship to Drive Economic Growth summit included Margaux Constantin, Partner at McKinsey & Company; Danny Cohanpour, CEO of Trove Tourism Development Advisors; Charaf El Mansouri, Co-Founder and CEO of Dharma; Mona Faraj, Co-Founder and CEO of ExploreTECH; and Amna Al Redha, Manager of AviationXLab, which is part of the Emirates Group Future Technology and Innovations team.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “It is encouraging to hear that travel investment is increasing in the Middle East, but it’s clear that more can be done to nurture entrepreneurs and startups operating in the region. While panelists acknowledged that there are various challenges facing those looking for funding, there is also significant potential for growth in this space and plenty of room for disruption.”

Summit speakers noted that various hurdles must be overcome by travel and startup entrepreneurs seeking investment, such as perceived levels of risk and long wait times on returns. Nevertheless, panelists argued that companies with genuine value propositions are well-placed to identify and attract the right backers.

Participants also highlighted the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Web3 and cryptocurrency in securing financial backing. Although these elements represent secondary focuses for the majority of travel entrepreneurs, panel members emphasized the importance of incorporating the latest innovations in business strategies when pitching to investors.

Commenting on the need for a shift in mindset from funders, McKinsey’s Margaux Constantin said: “If I look at our clients who are interested in investing in travel and tourism in the Middle East, 90% come with the same three parameters for investment, which are asset-light, EBITDA-positive and minimum-ticket-size [companies]. The reality is that this intersection is incredibly thin, so investors are going after the same very small pool of companies. We need a change in expectations and interests from investors to fuel entrepreneurship in [the region’s travel] sector.”

ATM 3 Next Level Luxury Session | eTurboNews | eTN
Next Level Luxury Session

Luxury hoteliers must prioritise authenticity, personalization and guest experience to stand out in a competitive market, say experts at ATM 2024

Industry professionals explored ways to stand out in the Middle East’s oversaturated luxury travel segment at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024, which concludes today at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Panelists speaking during the exhibition’s luxury summit said authenticity, personalization and the guest experience were among the key considerations for brands looking to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Industry experts noted that while the architectural designs of hotel operators’ premises may vary, it is important for luxury brands to establish common values and authentic experiences across their portfolios. From the language used to convey a company’s offering to the integration of local heritage and culture within individual hotels, speakers told ATM attendees that luxury players must remain laser-focused on delivering unique value propositions for guests.

Panelists participating in the Next-level Luxury: How to Stand Out as Truly Premium in an Oversaturated Market summit included Claudia Kozma Kaplan, SVP & Global Head of Brand at Raffles; Richard Alexander, GM of The Lana (Dorchester Collection); Michael Grieve, Chief Brand Officer at Jumeirah; and Marco Franck, Chief Hospitality Officer at Boutique Group. The session was moderated by John O’Ceallaigh, Founder of The Luxury Travel Edit Limited.

Participants said that rather than attempting to replicate luxury across multiple locations, the most successful luxury hospitality brands are infusing their hotels with local art, music and cuisine. For example, panelists acknowledged the value that can be added by the personal involvement of renowned celebrity chefs, but noted the importance of simultaneously nurturing and providing opportunities for homegrown culinary talent.

Speakers also emphasized the pivotal role of effective recruitment and retention in establishing teams that are equipped to meet and exceed expectations through hyper-personalised service. From retaining information about customers’ favourite foods to their children’s birthdays, summit participants told attendees that exceptional guest experiences are essential for luxury hoteliers looking to distinguish themselves in an overcrowded market.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Given the number of players in the Middle East’s luxury hospitality segment, it is no surprise that hoteliers are looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd. It was fascinating to hear such a diverse array of insights from our panelists, who provided some excellent examples of how brands can redefine what modern luxury means to their guests.”

ATM 4 Start Up Pitch Battle Winners | eTurboNews | eTN
Start Up Pitch Battle Winners

InterLnkd crowned winner of the ATM 2024 Start-up Pitch Battle, held in association with Intelak

InterLnkd overcame stiff competition on the final day of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2024 to win the third ATM Start-up Pitch Battle, which was held in association with Intelak. The UK-headquartered company uses specific data points and an intelligent matching engine to link the travel and hospitality sectors with the fashion, beauty and retail industries.

A total of 33 travel start-ups submitted entries for this year’s competition, a 158% increase compared to last year’s figures. Finalists ClearQuote Technologies ME Ltd, stayK and InterLnkd presented to judges Sarah Saddouk, Director of Innovation – and Mohammad Khoori, Ventures Team – Emirates Group.

Barry Klipp, Co-Founder and CEO of InterLnkd, outlined the company’s position as the first and only company to link the travel and hospitality industries with the fashion, beauty and retail industries to drive an incremental revenue stream to the former and a targeted sales solution to the latter.

Klipp said: “Using specific data points, and a unique intelligent matching engine built through AI algorithms, InterLnkd is able to connect thousands of bookings from travel and hospitality with thousands of products from fashion, beauty and retail to deliver incremental revenue streams to both parties.”

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “As we embrace entrepreneurship and innovation in travel at this year’s ATM, our pitch battle provides an ideal platform for emerging brands to unveil their cutting-edge industry solutions. Entrepreneurship in tourism is driving significant change across the industry, bringing forth creative ideas that enhance the traveler experience, optimize business operations, and build sustainable, culturally rich ventures that positively impact local communities.

“Our thanks also go to our partner, Intelak, a premier technology and innovation hub in Dubai that empowers both early-stage and established startups with the education, mentorship, tools, and resources necessary to tackle business challenges head-on,” Curtis added.

Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2025 will take place from April 28 to May 1.

eTurboNews is a media partner for ATM.

About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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