As the landmark 30th edition of the Arabian Travel Market 2023 opened in Dubai on Monday, the ongoing climate crisis was under the spotlight during the opening session of the largest travel and tourism fair in the Middle East.
According to a press statement issued by the organisers, the discussion gathered tourism and economy figureheads from across the Middle East region to address how the travel industry needs to adapt to tackle the issue of climate change and meet current regulations by implementing new sustainable policies, funds and support.
According to Sustainable Travel International, tourism is responsible for approximately 8 pc of global carbon emissions from transport, food and beverage, accommodation and related goods and services. The opening session at ATM looked at the industry’s crucial role in climate change – a particularly pertinent topic as the UAE prepares to host COP28 later this year.
The statement adds that the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) works closely with governments, the private sector and stakeholders across the globe, including 22 Arab nations, to reduce disaster risk. “Globally, in the last 20 years, there have been USD 2.97 trillion in economic losses due to disasters. Climate change is leading to more frequent and severe climate-related hazards such as floods, heatwaves, cyclones and hurricanes. In turn, the tourism industry loses enormous amounts of money due to these hazards. Therefore the return on investment is clear, invest now to help protect the future,” Sujit Mohanty, Regional Division for the Arab States, UNDRR, said in his address.
The statement adds that Jordan is one of the highest-ranking countries in the region on The Euromonitor Environmental Sustainability Index and responsible tourism is now a key focus for the nation. “Educating both businesses and travellers on how they contribute to the carbon footprint is one of our key priorities. In parallel with education, we are offering incentives to hotels, businesses and other stakeholders to encourage sustainable practices,” Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, Managing Director, Jordan Tourism Board said.
Despite political and economic challenges, Lebanon has attracted a significant number of tourists since 2022. In the summer of last year, Lebanon welcomed two million tourists, a quarter of which were international. As a result of the growth in visitor numbers, rural tourism has seen a boost, an area of tourism which is more sustainable and, therefore, more favourable to the issue of climate change.
“The guesthouse sector has grown in the last two to three years in Lebanon, which has been a welcome trend. We have now established a syndicate of over 150 guesthouses, encouraging tourism in more remote areas,” Walid Nassar, Minister of Tourism of Lebanon said in his address.
“The issue of climate change has never been more topical or urgent, and the strategies discussed at today’s opening session provided the perfect launchpad for ATM 2023 as we explore the future of sustainable travel under the theme, Working towards NetZero. Over the next three days, we will be hearing from leading voices across diverse segments of the global travel and tourism sector, all aligned on a shared vision to improve the climate change situation and ensure environmental protection,” Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME for Arabian Travel Market.
Earlier, Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai, officially inaugurated the 30th edition of the Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s largest travel and tourism exhibition, in Dubai on Monday.
He was accompanied at the inauguration by Portfolio Director of RX Global, Vasyl Zhygalo, Exhibition Director Middle East of ATM, Danielle Curtis and a host of other VIPs who embarked on a tour of the show floor as the four-day event got underway in Dubai.
ATM is taking place from May 1-4 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). According to a press statement by the organisers, exhibitor participation at this year’s event has seen a 27 pc rise compared to ATM 2022. The statement adds that the 30th edition of the show, which will welcome an anticipated 34,000 attendees over the course of the next four days, is hosting more than 2,000 exhibitors and representatives from over 150 nations.
In line with its theme, ‘Working Towards Net Zero’, ATM 2023 is enabling global tourism professionals to forge new connections, share knowledge and showcase innovations with the potential to expedite the sector’s journey towards decarbonisation, says the statement.
Day one of ATM 2023 saw organisation of over 20 sessions across its Global Stage, Travel Tech Stage and a brand-new Sustainability Hub. The day’s highlight was the opening Ministerial Debate which focused on the theme, How Should Travel Tackle the Climate Crisis, saw the participation of several leading minister and other senior officials of tourism industry.
The organisers say that on Day 2, John Strickland will engage in conversation with Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, on the ATM Global Stage as part the session, Emirates Returns to Growth. This discussion will cover a range of pertinent topics such as rising passenger traffic, as well as the challenges and opportunities that the carrier expects to encounter over the coming years.
Over on the Travel Tech stage, day two will begin with a session on the digital consumer as well as sessions on responsible tourism and role of innovation in helping to minimise carbon emissions, water consumption and waste across the sector.
ATM 2023 is being held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner, and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner, says the statement.