More than 63% of the 89 million passengers who passed through Dubai airport in 2018 were in transit with just 8% of these passengers leaving the airport to explore the emirate, according to the latest Colliers International data published by Reed Travel Exhibitions ahead of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre between 28 April – 1 May 2019.
As Dubai targets 20 million annual visitors by 2020, plus an additional five million between October 2020 and April 2021 for Expo 2020 – 70% of which will come from outside the UAE – a number of initiatives to increase stopover tourism have been introduced including new transit visas and dedicated tourism packages.
Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “Last year, the UAE introduced a new transit visa allowing all transit passengers an exemption from entry fees for 48 hours with the option to extend up to 96 hours for AED 50. This visa is not only good for the country’s tourism sector but for the local economy as a whole, enticing passengers to view their transit not as an unwanted delay in their travels – but as a good opportunity to add value to their trip and experience everything the UAE has to offer.”
According to IATA, the Middle East is forecast to see an extra 290 million air passengers on routes to, from and within the region by 2037, with the total market size increasing to 501 million passengers during the same period.
Adding to this, figures from ATM 2018 show the number of delegates interested in buying airline products and services increased 13% between 2017 and 2018.
“This projected growth underscores Dubai, and of course the Middle East, as the ideal location to bring together professionals from the aviation and tourism industry for our inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa forum which will be co-located alongside ATM 2019 – taking place on the last two days of the show,” Curtis said.
The success of the aviation industry in the sky is matched in the GCC and wider MENA region by the continued huge infrastructure investment.
The total value of 195 active aviation-related projects in the Middle East reached almost $50 billion in 2018, according to research provider BNC Network.
The various airport investments under way include AED30 billion in developing Al Maktoum International Airport, AED28 billion expansion of phase four of Dubai International Airport and AED 25 billion for the development and expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport. In addition, Sharjah Airport is also undergoing a AED1.5 billion investment in expansion of its terminal.
There are also a number of upcoming and planned airport expansion projects across Saudi Arabia, including King Abdulaziz International Airport Expansion in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport Expansion in Riyadh.
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Curtis said: “2018 was also an exciting year for new flight routes with GCC airlines alone adding 58 new flight routes – focusing on areas of consistent and substantial growth.
“With two thirds of the world’s population within an eight-hour flight from the GCC, it is an ideal base for exploring some of the world’s most interesting and previously inaccessible corners of the world. And the GCC’s airlines are making it even easier with the continuous addition of new and direct flight routes,” Curtis added.
Looking ahead to ATM 2019, aviation will feature heavily in the programme with a keynote from Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark titled ‘Emirates: Still leading the way’ as well as an exclusive one-to-one with Air Arabia CEO, Adel Ali. A panel session titled ‘What are the hot topics in the airline world’ which will explore how traffic is performing against a backdrop of volatile fuel prices and geo-political challenges as well as discussing stopover tourism and how the digital world is affecting airline and airport services and experiences for customers.
Confirmed exhibiting airlines for ATM 2019 so far include Emirates, Etihad Airways, Saudi Airlines, flydubai and flynas.
Considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, ATM welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2018 event, showcasing the largest exhibition in the history of the show, with hotels comprising 20% of the floor area.
Brand new for this year’s show will be the launch of Arabian Travel Week, an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including ATM 2019, ILTM Arabia, CONNECT Middle East, India & Africa – a new route development forum and new consumer-led event ATM Holiday Shopper. Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 27 April – 1 May 2019.
Arabian Travel Market is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2018 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days. The 25th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market 2019 will take place in Dubai from Sunday, 28th April to Wednesday, 1st May 2019. To find out more, please visit: www.arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.