During the last week of April, I had the opportunity to visit Arabian Travel Market on all four days of the event. After having visited the event I was determined to share my thoughts and experiences as a tourism graduate, an aspiring tourism researcher and travel blogger. I have collated them to 5 main reasons as to why students aspiring to work in the dynamic Travel & Tourism Industry, as well as travel bloggers need to visit Arabian Travel Market.
For those of you who are not aware, Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is a leading International Travel & Tourism event that has been taking place in the Middle East for the last 24 years. This 4 days Business to Business exhibition aims to bring tourism professionals from across the globe (strengthening inbound and outbound markets) under one roof to exhibit their tourism products and promote their destinations. More than 2500 exhibiting companies participated in this year’s event.
Participants/ exhibitors usually include Tourism Boards, travel agencies, hotels and commercial flights. To give you a glimpse, this year’s ATM ranged from innovative travel technology to unveiling of the region’s commercial aviation products using state-of-the-art technology along with the promotion of various culture and traditions to the discussions and speeches on tourism’s contribution to the economic diversification in the MENA region. Carrying different themes every year, this year focused on Experiential Travelling while last year and the year before focused on mid-market tourism and family tourism, respectively.
I am sure this would have kept you wondering about how a business event could help students. Let me tell you one thing, learning and observing from such platforms create a vivid understanding of the business/ corporate world than the textbooks do. Sure, textbooks do inform us of the theories practiced in the real world, however, experiencing the first bite of the real world begins with platforms such as Arabian Travel Market.
Therefore, here are my 5 reasons why ATM is beneficial for students and travel bloggers:
This is the most crucial aspect of the event. Establishing contacts with desired companies/ individuals will help us along the way, provided we keep in touch with them. The event provides us an opportunity to meet people of various profiles and different backgrounds. Remember, networking may not always be the source for landing a job, but can also help us gain insight into various topics by furthering our discussion with them even after the event through E-mails or preferred mediums. At ATM, there are plenty of tourism companies to network with and for good enough days. Also, various talks and seminars held during the event play a crucial role in networking.
2. Learning new things
Let me be honest, I have learnt so much in ATM in just four days and most of it by simply observing. If I go on to write about everything I learnt, I am afraid I might take your entire day! Also, I would like to mention that I had the opportunity to witness the 42nd Meeting of UNWTO Commission for the Middle East, which was an absolute dream come true to me. In this meeting, I observed the passing of actions and policies of tourism for the Middle East region in accordance to sustainable tourism development.
Following are the key three points on what I learnt from the exhibition otherwise:
i. With the theme being Experiential Tourism, I noticed how countries position/ distinguish themselves from other countries, leading to various forms of niche tourism. For example, Dubai has positioned itself as a futuristic destination and transforming the destination into one of the smartest cities in the world, thereby responding to the trend and shaping the preferences of travelers. On the other hand, Sharjah had positioned and continues to position itself as the cultural hub of UAE. Furthermore, Nepal, although very cultural and historical, it is now being promoted for wildlife tourism and various adventure activities such as White Water Rafting, Mountain Biking, Trekking, Kayaking – just to name a few.
ii. With the rise in demand for new experiences from travelers, Virtual Reality (VR) is shaping the future of the Travel and Tourism industry.
iii. The seriousness of the adoption of sustainable tourism development in the industry among various stakeholders, such as hoteliers, airlines and the destinations itself. And the ways of incorporating it in their business.
3. Understanding business
Once you enter the exhibition, there is one common sight which you will notice – business dealings, after all ATM means Business. As a recent tourism graduate myself, it was initially hard to understand the dealings and negotiations taking place with hoteliers and other travel businesses. But to my luck, my sister who also works in the Tourism industry flew in from India for the event. As she were to gain new clients for her business, I observed and learnt through the manner of negations and dealings that were made with various Online Travel Agents. Furthermore, one very crucial aspect that I realized, rather learnt – was until and unless a business is very-well established in a domestic market, it can be difficult to attract and gain partnership with agents of other countries to increase the inbound tourism to its country.
4. Meet the locals
One of the many best parts of ATM that I would say is meeting the representatives of the countries. The locals themselves. From Zanzibar to South Korea to Japan to Italy to Croatia, you name it! Always intrigued by culture and traditions myself, I seized this opportunity to meet as many locals as I could to learn about their lifestyle, culture and tradition. Some very humble experiences, I would say.
5. Plan your next vacation destination
Let me assure you, you are spoilt with choices when you have to choose your next vacation destination at ATM. From the scenic solitude resorts in Maldives to the turquoise beaches of Koh Rong in Thailand to the most sought-after luxurious stay at Kempenski Hotels and Residences in Palm Jumeirah to the adventurous wildlife cum cultural experience in Kenya and plethora to choose from – you are ought to be overwhelmingly pampered with choices. At ATM, you can meet the travel agents and book your spot at the earliest and at reasonable prices. Thus, avoiding the last-minute hassle and paying double the price.
Therefore, I strongly believe that students and travel bloggers can use this platform to enrich their understanding on the business of tourism and what different destinations have to offer. Moreover, platforms like this can help students choose their path of interest within the tourism field.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Arabian Travel Market on their 24th edition of yet another successful event. Not to mention the amazing job done by the social media team of ATM! 🙂
Looking forward to ATM 2018!
Please feel free to share your comments, thoughts and feedback! I would love to hear from you! Also, if you wish to see more pictures from my visit to ATM this year then feel free to check them out on my Instagram down below!