ATM leads the way for regional growth

ATM Diaries - Mike Scully

I ARRIVED in Dubai 20 years ago; in fact two months before the first Arabian Travel Market (ATM) took place in Dubai. I arrived in Dubai to open the then new 600-room and apartment Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Dubai was a completely different place at that time with the Sheikh Zayed Road being a single-lane road intended for traffic between Dubai and Abu Dhabi and not the six-lane motorway we know today.

Tourism as we know it was in its infancy with the Chicago Beach hotel being one of the few luxury beach hotels serving the leisure market as we know it today.

ATM has played a significant role over the last 20 years in showcasing the tourism market to the travel agents and operators from all corners of the globe. The success of the industry has been predominantly through the expansion of Emirates Airlines as it reached to most corners of the globe, subsequently the hotel infrastructure and inventory has increased to match demand.

The engine behind the success of all of this has been the various travel shows around the world of which ATM has been the central medium attracting buyers to showcase Dubai and all it has to offer in the world of tourism.

Barasti at the Le Méridien Mina Seyahi back in 1996 hosted the World Hobie Cat Championships

With 67 per cent tourism and hospitality growth forecast in the Emirates by 2016 and with billions of dollars of spending happening within the Arab world including Oman, Kuwait and Qatar, the ATM helps highlight this growth with its four-day event in Dubai as well as the various road shows around the Gulf giving serious government and aviation related emphasis on these growth regions.

Having opened the Crowne Plaza, I then moved on to assist the government with the development of Mina Seyahi. The Mina Seyahi project was to develop into one of the anchors of the leisure and tourism industry in Dubai with the marina hosting a number of world class events such as the World Class1 powerboat championships, Worlds Sailing championships, World Hobie Cats, Louis Vuitton Cup among many others.

The development of the Le Méridien Mina Seyahi and subsequently the Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina certainly helped the area develop into what is today the centre of the Middle East’s leisure tourism market. The area is home to hotels including Le Royal Méridien Beach Resort and Spa, The One & Only Royal Mirage, The Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina offering thousands of rooms and attracting millions of visitors each year.

Dubai hotelier Michael Scully is currently managing director of First and Foremost Hotels and Resorts, Dubai.