RETURNS with its popular Seminar Theatre series this year with a packed three-day schedule covering the gamut of key hospitality and tourism issues and attracting experts from some of the industry’s biggest brands such as Hilton, InterContinental, Qatar Airways as well as government officials from Jordan and Egypt.
While the Arab Spring remains a focal part of the seminar sessions and indeed, show floor discussion, attention is to turning to fledgling markets and new opportunities from the BRIC nations especially with technological advances and increased connectivity - even the remotest markets are now accessible.
One of the seminars on this year’s schedule already attracting keen interest is ‘The Rise of the Dragon: Attracting Chinese Travellers to the UAE’. Moderated by Lucy Chuang, managing director and co-Founder of Gulf Sino Training and Consulting and the Dubai Chinese Learning Center, Chuang will address ways in which the tourism sector can adapt and develop their services and skill set in order to attract inbound business from China.
An estimated 300,000 Chinese tourists travelled to the UAE last year and spent $334 million, according to a recent study by MasterCard; making Chinese tourists the most lucrative segment for the UAE. The 60-minute session, which will be held on May 1, from 1-2 pm and will take an in-depth look at how the region’s tourism industry can adapt or improve products and services to entice Chinese travellers to choose the UAE as a preferred travel destination.
A major draw of this year’s programme, also sponsored by TTN, will see a number of sessions featuring high profile industry speakers and thought leaders.
In ‘Bouncing Back from the Arab Spring’ the panel, which includes Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide Middle East & Africa, Hisham Zaazou, senior assistant minister of Tourism for Egypt and Leanne Harwood, VP commercial for India, Middle East and Africa, IHG will discuss what steps can be taken to improve the perception of the region globally and what can be done to lure investors to these attractive markets where infrastructure requires development.
In ‘The Big Talk’ Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways will be in conversation with John Strickland of JLS Consulting, for a head-to-head on the airline’s expansion and future plans.
Other sessions include ‘Luxury with a Conscience’ – examining the rise of philanthropic travel and asking whether it is, in fact, a hypocritical beast – and ‘Return of the Dhow’, which aims to bring the Middle East’s boutique cruisers out of the shadow of their supersized sisters and explore the critical role they are playing within the region.
With the Holy Month once again directly impacting the crucial summer season, a number of dedicated sessions will look at the strategies being employed to overcome the ‘Ramadan Factor’ and share industry experience and learning curves from 2011.
Running alongside the seminar series, the all-new Tech Theatre, sponsored by Sabre Travel Network Middle East, will a dedicated platform that provides an opportunity to gain invaluable insight into leading edge industry-related technologies including social media, GDS, internet booking sites and mobile apps’.
Daniel Naoumovitch, CEO, Sabre said, “We are one of the largest travel technology companies in the world, and the Arabian Travel Market is the top travel industry event in the region. Our sponsorship highlights the natural partnership and affinity we share for all things travel.”
“Sabre connects the consumer to the travel management company (TMC), the TMC to the airline, hotel and car rental company, the airline and hotel with its customers and a whole lot of connections in between. It’s one of the travel industry’s largest marketplaces with over $100 billion of travel purchased through it every year,” added Naoumovitch.