Barely two months after it reopened its international borders after a gap of three years, China has confirmed participation at the upcoming 30th edition of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), that will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from May 1-4.
This would be the first time that China is participating at ATM after a gap of three years due to closure of its borders following Covid-19 pandemic outbreak. In a press statement, the organisers of ATM say that Chinese exhibitors as well as travel industry professionals are making a welcome comeback this year.
The statement adds that on January 8 China withdrew its travel bans, allowing Chinese visitors to travel overseas without being subjected to quarantine upon their return. According to data from the Chinese online travel agent Trip.com, reservations for international travel around Chinese New Year increased by 540 pc when compared to the same period in 2022.
ATM says that in a CNN report by Steve Saxon, a partner at McKinsey who is based in Shenzhen, projects the Chinese outbound market to recover around six million per month by the summer of 2023, driven in part by pent-up demand, especially from young, affluent Chinese.
The organisers say that about one million Chinese tourists visited Dubai in 2019, an increase of almost 15 pc from the previous year. And while the 154,000 Chinese visitors Dubai welcomed over the first 11 months of 2022 was down 83 pc compared to the same period prior to 2020, it was up 115 pc year-on-year, which bodes well not only for Dubai, but also for the wider Middle East tourism sector.
“China became the world’s top source market in 2019, with 155 million tourists spending more than USD 250 billion overseas. However, its isolation from the global market over the past three years has set the industry back by an estimated USD 840 billion, equivalent, to 16 pc of the USD 1.7 trillion spent annually on global tourism, according to UNWTO,” says Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME of Arabian Travel Market.
The statement goes on to say that sought-after travel destinations that have continuously targeted Chinese outbound business-to-business and consumer travellers, such Dubai, Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, Egypt, and Jordan, could be well-positioned to gain from the anticipated increase in Chinese tourists.
“We have noticed a considerable amount of enquiries recently from travel professionals in China. Although we would not expect the same volume of Chinese exhibitors and visitors we received in 2019, we are confident of healthy participation numbers this year,” she added.
The statement adds that ATM 2023 has already confirmed the participation of key Chinese exhibitors such as Flightroutes24 Travel, Shenzhen GoodLuck Trip International and Travel World China, with many more bookings anticipated ahead of the show. ATM is also organising a dedicated conference session on its Global Stage, entitled China is back on the map: Macro and Micro Impacts, in partnership with Dragon Trail International.
An expert panel of speakers including Sienna Parulis-Cook, Director, Marketing and Communications for Dragon Trail International, Peggy Li, CEO & Chief Trouble shooter at sps:affinity and Winnie Chiu, President, Dorsett Hospitality International, will discuss the latest trends that are driving the recovery of Chinese tourism to the Middle East, say the organisers.
The statement adds that business travel is integral to the tourism revival. According to a recent survey by the Shanghai Institute of International Studies and PwC China, over 75 pc of Chinese businesses polled were looking to enter or expand their presence in the Middle East over the next three to five years, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia top destinations for investors.
“I am convinced that the Middle East will experience a surge in Chinese tourism, reminiscent of the rebound we witnessed from Europe and India in late 2021 and early 2022,” said Curtis.
The organisers say that the future of sustainable travel in Working Towards Net Zero are some key themes for ATM 2023. The conference agenda will examine how innovative sustainable travel habits are likely to change now that it has formally started its journey towards net zero. In addition to offering a forum for regional experts to discuss a sustainable future in advance of COP28, which will take place in November 2023 at Expo City Dubai, it will allow attendees to identify growth plans within important vertical sectors. The upcoming ATM will also feature a sustainability category at its annual exhibitor awards for the first time, says the statement.