'Umbrella' marketing to turn Gulf into tourism hotspot

Published May 1st, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Middle East tourism volumes currently stand at 15 million a year but are expected to soar to 69 million a year by 2020, according to Daniela Wagner of the World Travel and Tourism Council, who spoke at the two-day Sixth Arabian Travel Market Conference (ATM) held in Oman yesterday, April 30. 


Delegates at the conference backed a resolution calling for ‘umbrella’ marketing of the Gulf region, aiming to turn it into a regional tourism force. Such a joint promotion organization, according to Wagner, will ensure co-operation between the Gulf states and help co-ordinate tourism laws and regulations to attract increased tourism investment.  


She added that increased international awareness of the Gulf would also overcome the misconception of the Middle East as an area of conflict. Co-operation, said Wagner, would also ease visa restrictions to improve access to the region and help increase the development of infrastructure. It would also assist in training and human resources development to ensure qualifications are recognized across the region and worldwide. 


Wagner told the conference that the way ahead was to formulate a plan to achieve the conference objectives. “The region must develop an image positioning the Gulf states as an individual area and not as a part of the Middle East,” she said. “When prospective tourists see this region, they must think quality, diversity and safety.” 


Gulf airline representatives spoke about working more closely to create better coverage of the region and the need to introduce a ‘Visit The Gulf’ airfare for more cost-effective and convenient cross-border travel. Tour operators also pinpointed the need to develop programs to highlight the diversity of the region to attract tourists to different countries and hotel operators talked about the benefits of hotel clusters and the development of special packages to provide customer flexibility and value for money. 


The Arabian Travel Market 2001, a regional travel and tourism show, opens today, May 1, at the Dubai World Trade Center, and will run until May 4. — (Albawaba-MEBG)

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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