The recently concluded Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exhibition in Dubai (UAE) has been a massive success. Touted as the largest tourism and hospitality event in the Middle East region, ATM 2016 recorded a turnout of 28,000 trade visitors with a 7 per cent jump from the previous year. It is expected that ATM 2016 will surpass 2015 record of $2.5 billion in business deals facilitated.

According to Nadege Noblet-Segers (Exhibition Manager – ATM), the overall increase in visitor numbers and the 9 per cent rise in key buyers (those with budget responsibility for regional and international contracting) underscored ATM’s importance to trade buyers. Boasting representatives from 86 countries, 64 country pavilions and 100 new exhibitors debuting in 2016, ATM event has now grown to become one of the biggest in the world. Also new for 2016 was the Wellness & Spa Lounge connecting Middle East wellness and spa buyers with international suppliers.

ATM & Regional Tourism

ATM 2016 success could be attributed to the growth in local and inbound tourists, powerful aviation sector and emerging trends in tourism. Additionally, improving infrastructure and strategic location coupled with rise in economic activities makes the region a fertile ground for lucrative MICE industry. Latest trends suggest that leisure and business tourists are travelling to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in (UAE) in big volume from Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.

ATM & The Dubai Factor

Though the event is reflection of ME tourism and hospitality landscape, the Dubai factor cannot be discounted. Dubai has received an estimated 15 million tourists in 2015 and is rolling out an ambitious plan to realise 20 million tourists by 2020, with an anticipated 12 percent annual growth rate. In Q1 – 2016, Dubai has welcomed 4.1 million visitors (5.1% increase compared to the same period of last year) which identifies that Dubai and UAE is well on its way to achieve their vision of becoming the primary tourist destination for business and leisure travelers.

Tourism Sector Contribution – Dubai GDP 

Dubai’s Tourism sector contributes near around 20 per cent to its economy. Dubai is also ranked as the 4th best destination in the world behind Paris, Bangkok and London. By 2017-18, Dubai will enter the Top 3 in the build up to the World Expo 2020 due to the current tourist attractions and upcoming projects in Dubai which includes:

  • Blue Waters Island
  • Dubai Canal Project
  • Dubai Theme Park
  • Dubai Safari Park
  • Dubai Museum of the Future
  • Dubai Frame
  • Dubai Creek Harbour

EXPO 2020 & Dubai Tourism 

The impact of EXPO 2020 on Dubai’s economy will be significant, as it will have long-term effect on the economic growth of Dubai and UAE. Being considered as the third-largest global event in terms of economic and cultural impact after Olympic games and FIFA World Cup, EXPO 2020 is expected to attract more than 25 million visitors from October 2020 to April 2021 in Dubai.

Dubai Hotel & Hospitality Sector

By 2020 near around 35,000 rooms will be added to current stock of 65,000 rooms. Currently, construction work has commenced on 96 new hotel projects in Dubai and it is estimated that by 2020, Dubai will have more than 100,000 hotel rooms. The new hotels are expected to open mostly in Dubai South and Dubai Land (near to EXPO 2020 site). Dubai currently.

Investment Opportunities – Dubai Tourism Industry

The business environment in Dubai and UAE is very conducive for investment as the country offers some of the most affluent consumers in the world along with business friendly regulations and zero income tax for businesses and individuals. Due to strong economic growth projected, Dubai could be considered as the most lucrative destination for future investments.

Author: RKonnect
The author is the Managing Director of Research Konnection, a Dubai based market research and consulting firm that helps local and international companies to identify emerging business opportunities and successfully expand in the Gulf region. The author can be reached at
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