Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, shares her vision for 2021

If there is one exhibition that the global travel trade fraternity is keen on attending, it’s the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) held in Dubai. This year, the mega-event will be held in May.

Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic broke, the organizers, after rescheduling twice, finally canceled the on-site expo and decided to go virtual.

This year, drawing from the experiences of 2020, the stakeholders of ATM have decided to implement a hybrid-format. A live on-site event will be hosted from May 16 to May 19, which will be followed by a 3-day virtual show the following week.

Speaking to Voyager’s World, Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, revealed the vision for 2021 and the significant role played by ATM to make travel great again. Sharing her learnings of the past year, Curtis said: “We have learned a lot from the launch of our virtual mega-event ATM Virtual. We had a very short lead time to organize the event, however, the success of the show went beyond our expectations and we were delighted with the overall feedback and the results.”

She added that the team at ATM also optimized the capabilities and reliability of our technical platforms, where bandwidth and speed were crucial. “It is also very important to ensure you take into consideration time zones with such an international event, to accommodate as many of your stakeholders as possible. Additionally, to create interest from the industry, we listened to ensure we delivered what they wanted and also, helped them adapt to a virtual arena. Quality content and relevance are also key for such a digital event to work,” she said.

“Personally, and even with the growing trend towards a more virtual experience, I believe personal interaction remains essential and invaluable, particularly in an industry like ours, as we adapt to life and business post-COVID-19,” she added.

This year, the spotlight theme of ATM, ‘A new dawn for travel and tourism’ will look closely into the current state of the industry and more importantly, what the future holds. It will also be integrated in all show verticals and planned activities, with a host of seminars on the show floor designed to look at the emerging trends and how innovation can drive the industry forward.

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On the use of technologies in the travel and hospitality sectors, Curtis said that the use of online messaging tools and immersive technologies such as 3D virtual tours and other similar applications, as well as customized online booking platforms will be vital in helping businesses stand out from their competitors.

“I’ve no doubt the implementation of technology will form an integral part of the travel & hospitality industry in 2021 and beyond,” she said.

“Of course, health, safety, and hygiene will continue to be a strong focus for many establishments. We’re seeing hotels and restaurants partnering with accreditation agencies to ensure their property is following international hygiene and sanitization protocols. Although staycations and domestic travel remain important, international travel has already opened in many parts of the world and will be a key element in the path towards tourism recovery. I am confident that by May, we will be on the threshold of a new dawn for our industry,” she added.

Curtis reiterated that the show will also strictly adhere to the stringent health and safety guidelines set by the Dubai World Trade Centre and will set out to provide a touchless and seamless experience for all.

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