ATM has grown exponentially in 20 years

Thomson, Middleton and Skinner at TTN’s stand at the very first edition of ATM

WHEN I think that 20 years have passed since the first Arabian Travel Market (ATM) and that I celebrate 20 years working with TTN alongside ATM, it’s unbelievable!

I remember the first ATM in Dubai as if it were yesterday, when Al Hilal Group’s managing director, Ronnie Middleton, TTN’s reporter and my good friend Maeve Skinner and myself travelled from Bahrain as ATM’s Middle East Media partner and how overwhelmed we were at this brand new show with 300 exhibitors spread over three halls! The social calendar was a lot less busy with only one big party hosted by the Emirates Group.

The second year, the show moved to Bahrain, our home turf. It was an exciting time as we could entertain some of our international clients and extend Bahrain’s warm hospitality. Unfortunately since then, the show never returned to Bahrain, unlike its original plan to alternate between Dubai and Bahrain, as the show just outgrew its venue in Bahrain!

Today, 20 years on, the numbers are 2,400 exhibitors, eight halls, a growing seminar programme and endless parties. An exhausting thought!

Over the years I’ve witnessed several fun and interesting incidents on the floors. One year we had a Robot from Dubailand as a neighbour. He was larger than life with red beady eyes and would march right at you and stop and stare. He would always scare me but only until he’d break out singing “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, so you had to laugh. 

TTN and I have enjoyed close relationships with Reed Travel Exhibitions and have been fortunate enough to have worked with a number of their marketing managers and exhibition directors and each and every one of them have been professional and have contributed immensely to the  relationship we enjoy with Reed’s other successful travel shows across the globe. 

ATM has been a vital part of TTN’s growth over the last 20 years, Our managing director remembers Dubai in 1970 – with barely two hotels, grow into a city that it is today with almost every international brands and several home-grown hotel companies. It is  not only the hotels industry that has emerged here, but the country has flourished into a hub for tourism offering tourism attractions like waterparks, theme parks, an enviable sporting event calendar and impressive Mice facilities.

Needless to say, the region has faced challenges with the global financial crisis but as all of us in the travel industry know, tourism is an industry that is most vibrant and bounces back at amazing speed and the UAE and the region as a whole is testament to that. 

ATM has also been a vital part of showcasing the region to the rest of the world thus helping showcase TTN, another home-grown product, to the rest of the world!

Congratulations ATM, for 20 years of success and I look forward to the next 20 years where I will be walking the halls with my Zimmer frame!

Kim Thomson is the publishing director for TTN Middle East

By Kim Thomson