Investment in new ideas, technology and inclusivity to drive Middle East tourism sector

  • An equitable recovery strategy in which the whole tourism and travel ecosystem benefits is vital, said HE Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs & Chairman of Emirates Tourism Council of the UAE
  • Middle East’s travel and tourism sector is expected to generate US$ 246 billion of revenue in 2022, which is only 8.9% behind pre-pandemic levels

As tourism destinations in the Middle East are widening their appeal and extending their offerings to attract FDI, global ministers of tourism convened at the 2022 Middle East Tourism Investment Summit on the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Global Stage yesterday to shine a spotlight on access to project finance in the post-COVID-19 era and discuss investment opportunities and challenges for destination tourism in the region.

Hosted jointly by ATM and the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC), the summit began with a Ministerial Roundtable with participation from H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs & Chairman of Emirates Tourism Council of the UAE; H.E Nayef Al Fayez, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Jordan; Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica, and Hon. Philda Nani Kereng, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Botswana.

Shedding new light on the Middle East and the UAE as a financial hub for future worldwide tourism investment, H.E. Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi said: “For the UAE hospitality accommodation sector, investment in rooms and keys remains a primary focus as evidenced by a 5% growth in the number of rooms compared to 2019 levels, with a variation of service levels and accommodation type. However, while the big-ticket FDI will continue to grow in terms of rooms, from the service side, we see a lot of venture capital deployed on technological solutions for tourism. As the customer demand for elevated tourism experiences continues to evolve, we see technology as an important investment area in the future. So, while recovery is going well, we need to be mindful of being equitable in our recovery to ensure that the whole ecosystem benefits.”

According to recent forecasts, the total contribution of the travel and tourism industry to the GDP of Middle East countries is expected to reach around US$ 486.1 billion by 2028. Governments across the region are attracting hefty investments in their tourism industry, with Bahrain attracting US$ 492 million of tourism capital investment in 2020, for example, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earmarking US$ 1 trillion to its travel and tourism sector through to 2030.

The audience heard from Jordan’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, H.E Nayef Al Fayez, who discussed the continued investment in the country’s SME and start-up ecosystem to ensure that not it not only survived the pandemic but that it continued to thrive with women, youth and local communities empowered as a vital pillar of Jordan’s tourism industry.

Similarly, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica, described how investment in knowledge development and new ideas is a vast new dimension to enable innovation in the country’s travel and tourism sector. Tourism investments will have to change to bridge the supply disruption gaps and build back the capacity of tourism to be the driver of economic growth and development.

Discussing the outlook for tourism in post-pandemic Botswana, Hon. Philda Nani Kereng, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, explained: “In investing in the tourism sector, we want to meet the needs of the tourist that emerges out of COVID-19 by developing a new diversified tourism product. This is a tourist that wants new experiences, to heal from the lockdown and to engage with the local culture and biodiversity of the destination.”

“ATM’s strategy is to support the industry with a summit that acts as a platform for tourism ministers, policymakers, industry leaders and investors to discuss topical issues, challenges and future trends in the sustainable development of tourism and travel throughout the region,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market.

Elsewhere on the agenda on Day 2, industry leaders took to the ATM Global Stage to discuss the evolution of the aviation sector while marketing and consumer consultancy D/A explored how brands can more effectively connect with the Arabic travel audience.

Moving forward, highlights on Day 3 include an in-depth discussion on the ATM Global Stage about the future of the region’s hotel industry and the importance of unique dining experiences as an essential tool in the destination marketing playbook. On the ATM Travel Tech Stage, the audience will hear research into travel’s new normal following the global pandemic, and how Web 3.0 technologies, such as the metaverse, blockchain and artificial intelligence, can be used as tools to drive the advancement of travel services.

ATM 2022 concludes on Thursday, 12 May, at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

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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 attendees from more than 110 countries over the four days. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

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 Tech. 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. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts.

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London

WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil

WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town

About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.

WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.

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