A worker getting The Land of Legends stand ready on the eve of Arabian Travel Market 2018 at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Saturday. ATM, which opens today, runs until Wednesday and will see over 2,500 companies exhibiting their services. Organisers said more than $2.5 billion in deals are expected over the four days, with 40,000 people likely to visit. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: From new technologies to growing demand for mid-scale hotels and responsible tourism, hoteliers will gather at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) to discuss and showcase the latest trends in the travel industry.

The annual travel exhibition will kick off in Dubai on Sunday and will come this year against a backdrop of challenges in the hospitality industry where average room rates have been declining.

According to the latest report for property consultancy JLL, hotels in Dubai may continue to see weaker performance during the rest of the year as the impact of the recently-implemented Value-Added Tax kicks in. The decline in rates is also supported by strong supply of hotels, especially luxury properties, and a slowdown in demand.

In response to such slowdown, hotels are increasingly eyeing opportunities in the mid-market segment, with operators such as Emaar and Jumeirah having announced close to 10 new middle-market hotels this year alone.

And this is expected to be a key focus at ATM this year, with operators set to discuss their mid-market offerings.

Speaking earlier this week, Olivier Harnisch, chief executive officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said millennials were another reason behind the stronger demand for mid-scale accommodation.

He said that growth in the number of millennial travellers was also driving hotel operators and travel companies to focus on creating experience-oriented services.

Ras Al Khaimah’s Tourism Development Authority recently noted the need to offer “different stay experiences” within the emirate. In a statement to Gulf News, the authority said that many travellers nowadays want to experience the city as a local, spending more time “within the diverse neighbours throughout the city, rather than luxurious hotels.”

In terms of travel trends, responsible and sustainable tourism is a growing one that will also be highlighted by exhibitors at ATM. Emaar Hospitality Group’s Harnisch said there has been growth in responsible tourism, which is tourism that minimises negative environmental and social impact.

More and more travellers are now looking at hoteliers that take action to make tourism more sustainable, and are looking to generate greater economic benefits for the local people of destinations they visit.

Another key talking point at ATM this year will be technology.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways will host humanoid robot Sophia at ATM as a spokesperson for the future of technology. Sophia is the artificial intelligence-powered robot known who was named the United Nations Development Programme’s Innovation Champion for Asia and the Pacific.

At ATM, Sophia will take part in an onstage interview to discuss the future of innovation and technology in aviation.

Also in aviation, Emirates Airline will be unveiling at ATM its new Boeing 777-300ER First Class private suite, and showcasing its latest Business Class seat as well its new products.

ATM runs until Wednesday at the Dubai World Trade Centre, and will see over 2,500 companies exhibiting their services. Organisers said more than $2.5 billion in deals are expected over the four days, and 40,000 people are expected to visit.