December 9, 2023


ATM hosts the annual ITIC Middle East Tourism Investment Session

7 min read

  • Summit discussed the growing correlation between sustainability and investment in travel and tourism projects
  • The session also shined a spotlight on the growing opportunities for women in the region’s tourism industry

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 4 May 2023: The ITIC Middle East Tourism Investment Session has presented its annual ATM Investment Summit meeting at ATM 2023. Exploring the economic outlook for regional tourism, the session also delved into the relationship between sustainability and investment in the sector as well as the growing opportunities for women in the Middle East, focusing on Oman as a case study.  

Hosted by Gerald Lawless, Director ITIC Ltd, Invest Tourism Ltd, and Ambassador WTTC, the summit opened with Nicolas Mayer, Global Tourism Leader PWC, and Nicholas Maclean, Chairman, and Managing Director CBRE Middle East. Sharing an optimistic view on the market Maclean said: “One of the key asset classes which is attracting special interest, particularly in the GCC is the opportunity for investors to capitalize on the hospitality industry. The profile of investors in the GCC is much more long term than in other markets around the world.”

Saudi Arabia is a particular growth area for the GCC region with the Kingdom recording 93.5 million tourists in 2022. Commenting on the investment situation in Saudi, Mayer said: “In Saudi Arabia, there is an acceleration of not just hotels and rooms, but the creation of entire destinations which entails a number of different asset classes, be it in entertainment, human capacity building or experiences. The tourism industry is seen as a transformational sector when it comes to meeting sustainability goals and the sustainability aspect is now front and center when it comes to investment in the Kingdom.”  

The sustainability segment of the ITIC session was moderated by BBC Anchor Sameer Hashmi and the speakers for this session included: Amr El Kady, CEO, the Egyptian Tourism Promotion Board; Dr. Abed Al Razzaq Arabiyat, Managing Director of Jordan Tourism Board, H.E. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism Jamaica, Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; Maher Abou Nasr, Vice President Operations, KSA, IHG; and Hamza Farooqui, Founder & CEO, Millat Investments.

In terms of the challenges that sustainability presents to the tourism industry, aligning green policies across the public and private sectors was highlighted as a priority. Global cooperation across countries is also vital as industry players work towards a common sustainability goal.

The panel agreed that beyond policy, ‘people’ are the most important consideration when it comes to sustainability in tourism. Bartlett concluded: “Globally, tourism is the fastest recovering industry since the pandemic, but growth has to be in harmony with sustainability. It’s about building people – because tourism is about people. We want to make sure that the beneficiaries of tourism, are the drivers of tourism. Tourism is about the environment and without the environment there is no tourism, therefore the sector has to be the custodian of climate management.”   

According to the UN World Trade Organisation (WTO), women make up 54% of the workforce in tourism globally and almost a quarter of tourism ministers are women. Discussing the opportunities for women in tourism, Elizabeth Maclean, Co-Managing Director, Herdwick Communications interviewed Dr. Lubna Bader Salim Al Mazroei, Manager Economic Diversification Investments, Oman Investment Authority during the ITIC session.

Tourism is one of the main industries in Oman which is helping to diversify the economy and create employment opportunities for the local population. As part of its efforts to boost the tourism industry in the region, the Oman government established the Oman Tourism College in 2001. When the facility first opened, there were approximately 80 female students and this number has risen to 400 in 2023.  Women now work across several areas of the local tourism industry with roles in hotels, airlines, restaurants and tours.

Concluding the session, Al Mazroei said: “Tourism is a dynamic and multidisciplinary industry with exciting opportunities to pursue. The nature of the work in the sector gives you the opportunity for personal development, as well as to develop interpersonal and technical skills that will help you with your career growth – and to find your competitive edge.

“When the Ministry of Tourism was established in Oman in 2004, the first Minister of Tourism was a woman. Our target is to create 500,000 jobs in Oman tourism by 2040 and to further strengthen the Oman tourism sector, we are implementing new education, training and employment initiatives. We have a dedicated Human Capital department that is overseeing all of the needs of the sector and this department is managed mostly by women.”

The 30th edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM), will run from 1-4 May 2023 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

ATM 2023 is held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.

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About Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2022 attracted over 24,000 visitors and hosted over 31,000 participants including 1,600 exhibitors and attendees from 151 countries, across 10 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai    

About Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, ITIC, GBTA Business Travel Forums, as well as ATM Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums.     

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 capitalization is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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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 6 to 8 November 2023 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.

04.05.2023 Stockholm

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