Arabian Travel Market (ATM), once again hosted an Advisory Board Meeting at the Address Skyview, Downtown Dubai, bringing together travel and tourism leaders and experts to discuss trending opportunities and challenges facing the industry post-pandemic.

ATM’s Advisory Board was set up to provide counsel on industry themes, challenges, growth opportunities and future strategies, while brainstorming other topics and issues for debate at ATM 2022, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 8-11 May.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “We wanted to connect with a broad range of industry stakeholders to fully appreciate their key issues. More importantly, how those issues might impact the hospitality and the regional tourism landscape, as we work to build the agenda for ATM 2022, providing more business opportunities for our exhibitors and visitors.”

Board attendees included Jamel Chandoul, SVP Retail ME&A, Amadeus; Gregory Fuller, Director of Brand Activation, Dubai Tourism; Mark Kirby, Head of Hospitality, Emaar Hospitality; Haitham Mattar, Managing Director, IHG; Ian Albert, CEO MENA, Colliers International; Jeff Strachan, Director, Dubai College of Tourism; Sandeep Walia, COO, Marriott International; Raki Phillips, CEO, RAKTDA; Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels; Mohammad Al Hashimi, VP Commercial, Emirates; Bilal Kabbani, Sector Lead Branding, MENA Google; Marloes Knippenburg, CEO, Kerten Hospitality; and Guy Hutchinson, President & CEO, Rotana.

“During the debate which took place on 23rd November, three main topics came to the fore – innovation, attracting and retaining talent and sustainability, which will certainly feature in our seminar programme next year,” added Curtis.

In terms of innovation, the board debated how the pandemic had accelerated the adoption of digital and technology in general and that companies were now focused more on innovating and leveraging third party data to adapt to the new normal.

Examples used were the ways in which organisations were actively searching to simplify the payment process and defragment the way content is being pushed to customers. Furthermore, the board discussed the need for investment to facilitate the travel experience, ensuring customers felt safe through a frictionless journey.

Although members agreed that technology would never totally replace human interaction, offering choice was imperative. By limiting the need to interact physically, the risk of further contamination could be reduced, highlighting the need to integrate all tech’ products for mainstream travel sectors, accommodating, wherever possible, a seamless travel experience.

“The Middle East’s track record is especially strong in this area, having taken advantage of cutting-edge services and technologies to bring luxury travel to millions, however it was acknowledged that tourism and hospitality is still being disproportionately affected by the fallout from Covid-19.

“Supporting sector-specific innovation and bringing it to market, therefore, has never been so important – both in terms of the immediate recovery and longer-term sustainability,” added Curtis.

Turning to sustainability, the board discussed the positive trend of environmentally friendly practices and how essential it was, especially when reaching out to younger travellers. Google’s recent sustainability rating for hotels, was an example cited of reacting to such a trend, however although great strides had been made further investment would be required, whether through private or government support.

Another salient point that was raised, was the link between sustainability and talent acquisition – hospitality school and university graduates would be far more willing to embark on a career in an industry that was environmentally responsible.

It was widely accepted that there was an industry-wide shortage of talent. Although the pandemic hit the travel and tourism community harder than most, few sectors escaped its negative impact, which is why the travel and tourism sector will need to face up to the challenge of competing with multiple markets to attract the brightest new employees, graduates and innovators.

The board also recognised that many people had witnessed another aspect of the work life balance having spent extended periods working from home and the flexibility and convenience that affords. The industry would need to start reconnecting through platforms such as ATM to better understand the expectations and aspirations of the future generations coming into the industry.


About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 29th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2021 showcased over 1,300 exhibiting companies from 62 countries across nine halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, with visitors from more than 140 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #IdeasArriveHere

Next in-person event: Sunday 8 to Wednesday 11 May 2022, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai      

The next virtual event: Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 19th May 2022

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2022. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ATM Virtual, ILTM Arabia, Arival Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, as well as Travel Forward. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country summits. 

About RX (Reed Exhibitions) 

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face-to-face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. 


RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at  

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents, generating more than $7.5 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM Virtualis the WTM Portfolio virtual platform, created to offer global delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings, to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more. WTM Virtual embrace the global leading travel shows in one platform. 

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating over £3.71 billion in travel industry contracts. 

WTM Latin America takes place annually in São Paulo and attracts around 19,000 tourism professionals during a three-day event. The show offers qualified content, as well as networking and business opportunities. In its ninth edition – the first 100% virtual – WTM Latin America followed its focus on effective business generation and reached the milestone of 4,200 meetings held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors.

Next event: Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 April 2022 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil  

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. More than 6,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors.

Next event: Monday 11 to Wednesday 13 April 2022 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town  

Media contact:
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