ITIC Summit concludes successful return of live and in-person Arabian Travel Market

The Middle East Tourism Summit, organised by ITIC in partnership with Arabian Travel Market 2021, rounded off the Middle East region’s largest travel and tourism showcase by calling for continued collaboration at government level to support the recovery of the tourism industry in the Middle East. The comments came ahead of ATM Virtual, which takes place 24-26 May.

“Governments must come together. They must work together. There is no sense in any country working on its own anymore,” said Taleb Rifai, Chairman, International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) and former Secretary General UNWTO.

The summit, which will also take place virtually on 27 May, was held under the theme ‘Invest-Rebuild-Restart the tourism industry in the Middle East’ and attended by high-level decision makers, professionals and investors who discussed the challenges, issues, opportunities, but more importantly the way forward for the tourism industry in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit also focused on green sustainable investment, underscoring a new vision for responsible tourism recovery.

“Putting sustainability at the heart of the future development of the tourism industry in the Middle East will be crucial to meet the expectations of local and international visitors, who are now more socially aware and informed, than ever before. The industry has undoubtedly made huge strides in this area, with a range of initiatives across the sector positively impacting the environment,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market.

Elsewhere on the conference agenda on the final day of ATM, was an insightful session entitled ‘East Meets West: Lessons Learned Leading to Recovery and On-going Resilience’ with guest panelists from industry associations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

The overwhelming consensus was that it is extremely important that countries and destinations work together to share best practice and align protocols in order to get global travel restarted seamlessly and safely, a point reiterated by aviation experts earlier at ATM. According to the panel, the most pressing issues making the current situation so challenging for the industry is the fact that the situation remains unpredictable and there is a lack of clarity, which makes medium to long term planning very difficult.

Another popular seminar was a hotel summit session about the challenges to traditional hospitality, brought on by social distancing and the increased reliance on technology – impersonal by nature. A panel consisting of hospitality leaders, agreed that nothing would replace genuine hospitality, rather guests would decide what level of human interaction they were comfortable with – balancing safety with personal attention while maximising the efficiency of technology without compromising on service excellence.     

ATM continues next week with the highly anticipated ATM Virtual event, which takes place from 24 – 26 May. During the three-day showcase, those unable to attend the in-person event this year, will have the opportunity to view sessions recorded from the in-person event, as well as participate in a range of webinars, live conference sessions, roundtables, speed networking events, destination briefings, as well as make new connections in one-to-one meetings.

Arival Dubai @ ATM will also take place during the virtual week. The event will feature a series of sessions covering current and future trends for operators of tours and attractions

In addition, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s premier business travel and meetings trade organisation, will deliver the latest business travel content, research and education to drive the post-pandemic recovery and support growth in business travel.

“This week has been a resounding success, we’ve welcomed exhibitors from 62 countries and travel professionals from over 100 countries during the four days of the event,” said Curtis.

“Next week, ATM Virtual gives us the opportunity to interact with an even greater global audience. With travel restrictions still in place for many people, for those unable to attend the live and in-person event, the virtual element provides the perfect platform for travel professionals to connect, do business and hear from leading lights within the industry, from anywhere in the world,” added Curtis.

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