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What’s next for travel and tourism? Experts gather at ATM to explore

Global travel, tourism, and hospitality experts have come together to explore how their industry is working towards net zero at the four-day tourism conference

What’s next for travel and tourism? Experts gather at ATM to explore
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

Did you know tourism is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions? The travel industry has reached a turning point and has been urged to prove its commitment to sustainability with rapid decarbonization to avoid a climate disaster. Accordingly, Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has sustainability as a key focus this year – taking a crucial first step toward combating climate change.

Apart from sustainability, the task before the travel and hospitality industry in the Middle East is to sustain the gains and favorable trends of the last two years. Building new hotels at varying levels of opulence and customization and adding more aircraft and routes are apparent answers to keep the momentum.

Over 2,000 exhibitors and an anticipated 34,000 attendees, representing more than 150 countries, are attending the event at the Dubai World Trade Centre until Thursday, offering an answer to every other industry crystal-gazing exercise.

The conference highlights the industry’s initiatives to achieve the road to net zero, with specialists and key players expected to share their insights on attaining this objective.

The opening session at ATM tackled the industry’s crucial role in climate change – a pertinent topic as the UAE prepares to host COP28 this November. 

According to Sujit Mohanty, Director, Regional Division for the Arab States, “Globally, in the last 20 years, there have been $2.97 trillion in economic losses due to disasters. Climate change leads to more frequent and severe climate-related hazards such as floods, heat waves, 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.”

Given its high ranking on The Euromonitor Environmental Sustainability Index, Jordan, which sets an example for sustainability-led oversights, is also presenting at ATM.

“Educating both businesses and travelers 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,” said Dr Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, Managing Director of Jordan Tourism Board. 

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 that is more sustainable and, therefore, more favorable to the issue of climate change.

“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 net zero,” Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME for ATM, said in a statement. 

Saudi Arabia has a strong presence at the ATM, showcasing the 67 partners on the stand, with more than 500 bookable experiences and packages. Visitors can immerse in the interactive exploration of its famous destinations across the Red Sea, the Great Arabian Dunes, to the ancient landmarks of AlUla and Diriyah. 

Tour operator Holiday Factory announced the launch of its new brand, “Holiday Factory Premium,” in keeping with the demand for luxury at cost-effective prices. 

At this year’s edition, Air Arabia is showcasing its latest joint venture partnerships, and route and fleet expansion strategy, while Visa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) to collaborate to promote Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector.

As part of the MoU, the two entities will set a framework for collaboration to build the first Tourism Data Lab in the region to provide data-driven insights into travel and tourism trends, enabling STA, Visa, and all industry stakeholders to make informed decisions to support the Saudi government’s tourism ambitions. 

Overall, exhibitor participation has risen by 27%. Also, new this year is the ATM sustainability pledge designed to reinforce RX’s commitment to delivering sustainable events through environmentally friendly materials and other forward-thinking initiatives.

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