Anwar A.Z Abu Monassar, Thierry Antinori, Simon Press, Issam Abdul Rahim Kazim and Olivier Harnisch at the press conference on Tuesday in Dubai.
Dubai's hospitality and tourism is all set to welcome the sector's top most global leaders as they descend in the emirate's annual travel fair early next week.
Starting on April 24, the four-day fair - now in its 24th year - which takes place at Dubai World Trade Center, will welcome over 2,600 exhibitors and an expected 30,000 visitors to the Middle East.
Simon Press, senior exhibition director, Arabian Travel Market, or ATM, said: "It is clear that the Expo 2020 project is driving growth throughout Dubai, as it aims to complete 160,000 hotel rooms in time to welcome an additional five million visitors over the course of the six-month event. However, the UAE and the GCC countries as a whole are looking towards tourism as a way of diversifying their economies away from their reliance on hydrocarbon receipts."
For the second successive year, organisers have added an extra hall, to accommodate extra demand, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions, and more than 100 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut.
Press added the increasing trend is for an immersive style of tourism, which encompasses different areas of local life - culinary, culture, history, shopping, nature, sports, halal, theme parks, wellness and spa, medical tourism and sheer Arabic opulence - and can be the basis for a holistic travel experience, by connecting with a place rather than just making a visit.
New to ATM 2017, ILTM Arabia will play host to one-to-one, pre-scheduled appointments, between suppliers of luxury products and destinations from around the world to an audience of high net-worth individuals. While marketing to experiential travellers will be an integral part of the ATM Travel Tech seminar programme. The UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum returns, uniting more than 20 ministers with industry leaders in the Mena region to consider methods of capitalising on tourism growth and building a sustainable ecosystem for the sector to unlock its potential within each country's national agenda.
Other popular features returning to the show repertoire this year include the Wellness and Spa Lounge (which has grown by 40 per cent and now includes 35 international suppliers and 35 Middle East specialist buyers), Travel Agent Academy, Buyers Club and the Bloggers Speed Networking events. There will also be a series of seminars, starting with the opening session of this year's event on the Global Stage, which will look at the role Expo 2020 will play in delivering the UAE's long-term vision for economic diversification. Now just three years away, high level stakeholders will take part in a panel discussion about the upcoming event.
"We are looking forward to showcasing Dubai's ever-evolving destination proposition to the international travel trade community during the event - this includes a whole host of attractions that have launched over the past year alone, from theme parks such as Dubai Parks and Resorts, to more cultural offerings such as Dubai Opera, the Etihad Museum and Saruq Al Hadid."
Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai's Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) said, ATM this year will also be highlighting several new initiatives of our own including Dubai Sustainable Tourism updates and our new industry training 'Dubai Expert' which Dubai College of Tourism will showcase.
Thierry Antinori, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, Emirates airlines, said: "Experiential travel, ATM's theme for this year, is about providing more choice, and as an airline, we are seeing rising demand from consumers for more authentic and engaging travel experiences. In this seamlessly connected era, people want to travel better, with a more personalised experience and at Emirates we work hard to deliver those memorable experiences for our customers."
Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, commented: "Ten years since our inception, we have clearly defined our credentials as a home-grown hospitality group with a growing portfolio of hotel and serviced residences projects in the UAE and other international markets."
Anwar A.Z Abu Monassar, destination director, Strategy & Operation, The Vision, said: "Arabian Travel Market is the premier event in our industry, where we can network and showcase our products and projects to a huge, captive audience."