DUBAI: The Saudi travel industry will have top billing in Dubai this week as the Kingdom showcases its biggest tourism attractions.
With 81 Saudi exhibitors the Arabian Travel Market, the Kingdom has the biggest regional presence at this year's event outside of the UAE itself.
It is the first major in-person international travel event since outbreak of pandemic with 62 countries represented on the exhibition floor. It comes as the regional travel sector slowly emerges from a year of crippling restrictions with international flights also set to resume in Saudi Arabia from May 17.
“This year more than any other, we, along with our partners and sponsors, have worked together closely, to enable an inspirational in-person event, that will set the tone for the Middle East travel and tourism industry for the rest of this year,” said Exhibition Director Danielle Curtis.
Under the theme of ‘A new dawn for travel & tourism’, the 28th edition of the four-day show will include a dedicated buyer forum for Saudi Arabia.
Several leading figures from the Saudi tourism sector are due to speak at the show tomorrow, including Fahd Hamidaddin, the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority and Ibrahim Koshy, the CEO of national carrier Saudia.
This year’s event coincides with the reopening of regional tourism after a year of devastating setbacks for the sector as hotels were forced to shut and airlines grounded their fleets.
The resurgence of the pandemic in India remains a major concern for the Dubai tourism sector because the country is the biggest source market for tourism in the emirate — accounting for almost 2 million visits in 2019, according to official data. Saudi Arabia was the second-largest source market with more than 1.5 million visits.
“If you look at the MENA region you still have a large number of cases,” Aathira Prasad, a director at Nasser Saidi & Associates told Bloomberg TV on Sunday.
“It is no longer sufficient for the pandemic to be brought under control in certain places because the case surge can happen anywhere and this is likely to persist until this is controlled globally.”
Beyond the region, more tourism markets are also gradually recovering with both Greece and Portugal opening to most European tourists this week.