Visitors on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market 2024.
Visitors on the opening day of Arabian Travel Market 2024. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The 31st edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) opened on Monday with Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) revealing how the Emirate saw 5.18 million international overnight visitors in the first quarter of 2024, an 11 per cent increase from last year.

Commending the achievement, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, said: “With the commencement of the Arabian Travel Market 2024, we are pleased to share that Dubai's tourism sector has started the year on a promising note.”

Sheikh Hamdan applauded at how Dubai’s hotels maintained its growth momentum, with occupancy rate of 83 per cent. “Dubai remains committed to delivering an exceptional tourism experience, aligned with the goal of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33 to establish Dubai’s position as one of the world's top three cities for tourism,” he added.

At the event, the UAE Minister of Economy, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, updated on the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) unified Gulf tourist visa – to be named the ‘GCC Grand Tours’, revealing how travellers will be allowed to visit all six GCC states and spend more than 30 days in the region.

The GCC has given the green light in what the Minister deemed “a significant move aimed at simplifying travel logistics and fostering tourism.” This will make travel to the region more affordable for tourists, while increasing employment in the region, the Minister added.

Additionally, Teodora Marinska, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Public Affairs at the European Travel Commission, said the new bill to render the Schengen visa application fully digital is a positive development in speeding up the process as frequent travellers won’t be required to go in person.