The number of foreign tourists heading to the UAE this year is expected to reach almost 9 million, according to the latest industry forecast issued by international industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI). The BMI report forecasts that overseas arrivals in the UAE during 2012 will climb to 9 million, a healthy 9% increase on the 8.2 million tourists that arrived in the UAE last year. Echoing that sentiment, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, is witnessing strong online visitor interest ahead of this year’s event, with the number of pre-registered visitors already up 132% from the same time last year.

“With unrest particularly in Egypt and North Africa last year, the UAE experienced an influx of tourism, boosting its status as a regional safe haven,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions. “With Emirates and Etihad opening-up at least ten more destinations between them this year, not including low cost options FlyDubai, and Air Arabia, future tourism growth is assured. ATM not only provides a platform for the travel and tourism industry, it acts as a barometer and the massive increase in our online registrations certainly supports BMI’s forecast,” he added.  Guest numbers at Dubai hotels rose 10% year-on-year to nearly 4.6 million for the first half of 2011, BMI said, as more visitors from the Middle East travelled to the UAE.

A record number of guests also checked into hotels in Abu Dhabi last year, according to latest figures released by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA). Over 2.1 million guests checked into hotels in the country’s capital, beating an official target by 100,000 and the previous record high of around 1.8 million in 2010.

Despite a large increase in the number of available rooms, Dubai was the sole tourist destination in the region that has shown a rise in both occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2011, with increases of 4% and 4.5% respectively, according to a recent report by Ernst & Young. According to another report by STR, the UAE is leading the region in development projects with 21,238 rooms under development and tourism initiatives underway across all the emirates including Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah.

“With oil prices stable at around $100 per barrel, the oil-exporting Gulf states are witnessing greater fiscal stability and investing billions of dollars into tourism infrastructure,” he added. Indeed, Walsh’s point is reflected in the online visitor registrations for this year’s four-day Arabian Travel Market show, which opens on 30 April 2012. Nearly 2,000 visitors have so far registered for the event.In addition, the number of pre-registered visitors from the UAE has reached 1,201, representing an increase of 156% from the same time last year. Meanwhile, the number of visitors interested in buying products and services is up 126% to 1,868. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its nineteenth year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. In 2011, 2,232 exhibitors covering floor space of just under 20,000 square metres attracted more than 22,000 attendees.

The line-up for this year’s Arabian Travel Market will bring together annual favourites and a number of brand new events including the inaugural UNWTO regional tourism ministers’ conference and the WTM Vision forum, which will focus on Middle East travel trends and the online travel market. Covering the entire week, the popular Seminar Theatre series of sessions will address industry hot topics from developments in the aviation sector and hotel branding to Sharia-compliant travel.

The all-new Tech Theatre is a dedicated platform that provides an opportunity to gain invaluable insight into leading edge industry-related technologies including social media and GDS.  For the second year running, Arabian Travel Market will once again host its own unique industry version of The Apprentice to uncover the best emerging regional talent. Other regular features include the New Frontiers Award, which recognises outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity, and the perennially popular industry Careers Day will wrap up the week.


Source: Press release

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