Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad during the opening of Arabian Travel Market 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. More than 40,000 visitors expected to attend the event. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Dubai: The Arabian Travel Market (ATM) began on Sunday morning in Dubai, bringing together the world’s hoteliers, airlines, and travel agents, all hawking their wares to an increasingly savvy audience of travellers.

Now in its 26th year, ATM 2019 will welcome over 2,500 exhibiting companies and an expected 40,000 industry professionals, with over 150 countries represented, 65 national pavilions, and more than 100 new exhibitors set to make their ATM debut.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to the UAE’s economy is predicted to rise 4.1 percent per annum to AED 108.4bn by 2028.

Arabia Travel Market 2019
Exhibitors at Arabia Travel Market 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

It is Saudi Arabia, however, that dominates the event’s advertising space, touting the kingdom’s airlines Flynas and Saudia in a push for eyeballs.

Asia is also high on the agenda, with the event hosting the Arabia China Tourism Forum for the first time.

With China set to account for a quarter of international tourism by 2030, ATM’s organisers say an expert panel will outline how destinations around the world can capitalise on this growth.

Dubai remains set on diversifying its tourism offering, with a greater effort in recent years to introduce theme parks, cultural offerings, and affordable hotels - all aimed at attracting a new type of tourist.

 Arabian Travel Market 2019
Artists from Jakarta perform at Arabian Travel Market 2019. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

“Our presence at Arabian Travel Market forms a core part of our efforts to raise awareness of Dubai as a diverse travel destination to global audiences,” said Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM). “We remain focused on strengthening collaborations with our network of industry partners, in turn underlining the enormous diversity that the emirate offers global travellers.”

Coming at a challenging time for the aviation industry, the country’s airlines will also be on display at ATM this week.

Emirates are displaying their business class offering, whilst flydubai and Etihad are both slated to make announcements later on Sunday.