Gerald Lawless, Ambassador for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), is confident that the tourism industry will bounce back from the crippling impact of Covid-19.

Speaking on the final day of Arabian Travel Markets ATM Virtual event where a panel of tourism experts discussed the opportunities in the region to kick-start sustainable investment in the hospitality sector, Lawless said: "It is a time for opportunity and that is something investors will always look for. Investors are out there, and they will be in the future. There are investment opportunities within our industry, particularly in the hotel sector and we will see this developing and evolving over the coming weeks and months."

The session, Restructuring to Attract Sustainable Development and Customers in the New World Order, moderated by BBC presenter and broadcaster, Rajan Datar, and in collaboration with the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC), took place on June 3, and was opened by Dr. Taleb Rifai, Chairman, ITIC, who said: Who would have imagined three months ago we would be holding our conference in this manner. The world is however quickly waking up. Life post containment is incredibly important and the need for economic recovery is now.

Discussing Dubais future investment opportunities, Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM), said: Dubai has a lot of multinational companies who have established their regional headquarters here.

Dubai has a lot to offer these businesses in terms of systems and the different free zones giving companies the opportunity and flexibility to be able to practice their business in a way that is comfortable for them. The lifestyle of Dubai also makes it very easy for people to relocate. It simply becomes an offer too good to refuse.

The opportunities in the tourism industry for investment as a byproduct of cheaper real estate was discussed by Nicolas Mayer, EMEA Hospitality & Tourism Center of Excellence Industry Leader, PwC, who said: Many of the primary real estate markets in this region, in the UAE, Saudi, and Oman for example, are phenomenally dynamic. Yes, they have taken a hit, but they have demonstrated in the past the ability to ramp up again and go beyond what it used to be, before anywhere else in the world, which makes one very confident in investing.

Foreign direct investment was also a hot topic of conversation, particularly from Saudi Arabia when looking at the opportunities afforded by their burgeoning tourism offering.

Majed AlGhanim, Managing Director of Tourism & Quality of Life, Ministry of Investment, Saudi Arabia, said: In addition to the local and regional buying power in Saudi, we believe we have an attractive offering for investors from overseas with all the of the new sites and destinations coming up in Saudi Arabia. We are a destination that is ready, open, and looking forward to welcoming visitors to Saudi Arabia.

The session also featured investment discussion from Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority; Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority Shurooq; and Saleh Mohamed Al Geziry, Director General, Ajman Tourism.

Day three of ATM Virtual also featured responsible tourism with Harold Goodwin, Responsible Tourism Advisor for World Travel Market and Inge Huijbrechts, Global Senior Vice President Responsible Business and Safety & Security, Radisson Hotel Group, discussing the responsibility agenda in a post-coronavirus landscape.

During the session, 'What are the Implications of COVID-19 for Responsible Hospitality? Inge Huijbrechts said: "Whilst most hospitality brands have put responsible and sustainability projects on hold for a few months, we cannot and must not self-isolate from climate change. Climate change is a huge focus as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, with responsibly caring for both our employees and our guests a key objective for all hospitality companies across the globe."

Turning to influencers, Make Your Connection: Influencers as a Key Part of the Marketing Mix Covid-19 The Road to Recovery, led by ITP Media Groups Head of Content, Eddie Taylor,, explored the importance of creating relevant, engaging and impactful travel and lifestyle content in the current climate of best practices.

ATM Virtual concluded on June 3, a total of 18,959 registrations from 152 countries were recorded, including 490 media. The event included 14,385 pre-scheduled meetings and featured 23 live webinars, interviews, and pre-recorded roundtables. - TradeArabia News Service

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