(MENAFN - Arab News) The four-day Arabian Travel Market (ATM) concluded on Thursday with a number of project announcements and several new deals between regional and international groups. "The business buzz is definitely back, the regional travel industry is in an exceptionally buoyant mood and participants are positive and confident, said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The booths that related to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and different emirates in the UAE were very active. The notable presence of Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Sharjah tourism departments were another attraction.
India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Maldives also had beautiful stands that attracted thousands of visitors.
"The Arabian Travel Market is one of the most important travel and tourism exhibitions, and as such a perfect vehicle through which to implement our approach to promote Sharjah on an international level," said Marwan bin Jassim Al-Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq).
Shurooq hosted a number of meetings with renowned international investment and tourism development firms and caught wide attention during the exhibition.
"Our primary strategy is to develop the tourism sector in Sharjah to reflect the position of the emirate. By accelerating the development of modern tourism facilities that help increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP, we are actively working toward this goal and making the country an even more attractive tourism destination," Al-Sarkal added.
Meanwhile, Amadeus, a travel technology provider and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry, has unveiled its Amadeus Mobile Traveler at ATM. This fully integrated and complete mobile application is designed to support pre-trip, in-trip and post-trip functionalities and enable end travelers to fulfill their on-the-go travel needs. It boasts a suite of planning and booking functionalities for real-time flight, car rental and hotel bookings taking into account social media integration and in-trip assistance services.
"Travelers are becoming increasingly demanding and technology savvy owing to advancing mobile penetration rates. The need to keep pace with this trend and provide travel agents with a competitive edge has never been greater," said Antoine Medawar, vice president, Middle East and North Africa, Amadeus.
Saudis are frequent travelers and Qataris top spenders. This was highlighted at a seminar held at the ATM. Qataris are highest spenders abroad with daily average of 4,100 followed by Saudis 3,360 and emiratis 3,280, a survey on "The Outbound GCC Travel Market - Unique Trends and Characteristics of GCC Nationals" revealed. Over 2,500 GCC nationals were interviewed to know their travel habits over a 12-month period from January to December 2011.
Sunil Malhotra, senior lecturer at the Emirates Aviation College, surveyed a cross-section of GCC nationals from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
According to the report summary, 53 percent of survey respondents will travel to abroad, between two and five countries, for leisure or pleasure within the next 12 months, with Saudi nationals the most frequent travelers, followed by the UAE.
The study says that, Qataris spend the most on travel with an average expenditure of 4,100 per day, followed by travelers from Saudi Arabia at 3,360 and the UAE at 3,280.
The study findings touched on the recurring theme of extended vacations as a major differentiator between this region and the rest of the world, led by Qatari and Saudi Arabian travelers, with stays ranging from 14 up to 56 days.
Decision makers also differ across the region and the six Gulf countries are split into two clear camps, with the wife usually choosing the destination in Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, while the male head of household has the final say in Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.