June 10, 2023


ITIC session to shine a spotlight on industry financing at ATM 2023, with more than 150,000 pipeline hotel rooms currently under contract in GCC

7 min read

  • ATM’s ITIC session will examine sustainable decision-making and investments
  • KSA leads regional development with a pipeline of more than 100,000 hotel rooms
  • Investment to be a key focus throughout ATM, which will run from 1-4 May in Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 18 April 2023: Industry experts will gather in the UAE to discuss sustainable decision-making and financing during the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC) the Middle East Tourism Investment Session at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May.

Saudi Arabia is leading the GCC’s tourism development activities with a pipeline of 100,071 hotel rooms, according to data released by STR. Dubai is the region’s second most active market with 27,095 rooms under contract, followed by Qatar (17,145), Oman (10,292), Bahrain (3,452), and Kuwait (1,369). In total, there are 159,424 pipeline rooms under contract in the Gulf at present.

Related opportunities and challenges will be placed under the microscope throughout ATM 2023, thanks to a range of panel discussions and events related to industry financing. In addition to the ITIC panels, this year’s show will feature sessions highlighting industry-critical issues such as travel tech investment, the contemporary geopolitical landscape, urban regeneration, future markets, space tourism, and more.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market, said: “With nearly 160,000 hotel rooms under development across the GCC, this region is undoubtedly a global hotspot for industry investment right now. Thanks to the participation of ITIC and a host of other finance-related sessions, ATM 2023 represents the ideal forum for travel, tourism, and hospitality professionals from around the world to explore the latest investment opportunities and novel financing models with some of the biggest names in our sector.”

Taking place on day three of ATM 2023, the ‘ITIC Tourism Investment Session: Making Sustainable Decisions’ will feature insights from an array of industry experts. The sessions will begin with a tourism economic outlook for 2023 from Gerald Lawless, Director of ITIC Ltd, Invest Tourism Ltd, and Ambassador for the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

ITIC’s opening session will be followed by a panel discussion on the increasing correlation between sustainability and investments in travel and tourism projects, moderated by Sameer Hashmi, Middle East Business Correspondent at BBC News. Speakers will include HE Ahmed Issa, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism; Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; and Maher Abou Nasr, Vice President, Operations – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at IHG Hotels & Resorts.

ATM 2023’s ITIC sessions will conclude with an interview between Elizabeth Maclean, Co-Managing Director of Herdwick Communications, and Dr. Lubna Bader Salim Al Mazroei, Manager – of Economic Diversification Investments at Oman Investment Authority, during which the two will discuss growth opportunities for women across the Middle East’s tourism industry.

The 30th edition of the show will also feature ‘Plug and Play: Sustainable Tech – Startups Pitch Battle’, which will see seven entrepreneurs pitch their innovative solutions in front of a panel of independent industry experts at ATM 2023’s brand-new Sustainability Hub. This year’s judges will include Natalie Seatter, Chief Product Officer at OAG; Jalil Mekouar, Founder and CEO of innovative Solutions; Kristi Choi, Early Stage Tech Investor at Plug and Play; Winnie Chiu, President of Dorsett Hospitality International; and Essam AlZahrani, Tourism Startup Studio Programme Manager at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism. The winning startup will receive a range of industry support, including access to Plug and Play’s Startup Accelerator cohort and exhibition space at ATM 2024.

Other investment-related highlights at ATM 2023 will include sessions on financing sustainable travel, backing green technologies, strengthening the supply chain, future-proofing the travel sector against geopolitical turmoil, the power of urban regeneration, future markets, and space tourism. These panels will be attended by a variety of high-profile speakers, such as Haitham Mattar, Managing Director – IMEA at IHG Hotels & Resorts; Guy Hutchinson, President and CEO of Rotana Hotel Group; Johan Eidhagen, Managing Director of Wizz Air; Robert Willock, Director MENA & Regional General Manager at The Economist Intelligence Corporate Network; Saleh Al Geziry, Director-General for Tourism at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism; Christian Delom, Secretary General of A World For Travel; HE Ghada Shalaby, Egypt’s Vice Minister of Tourism and Antiquities; and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism.

The 30th edition of ATM will explore the future of sustainable travel in line with its theme, ‘Working Towards Net Zero’. Having officially initiated its journey to net zero, the conference program will explore how innovative sustainable travel trends are likely to evolve, allowing delegates to identify growth strategies within key vertical sectors, while providing a platform for regional experts to explore a sustainable future ahead of COP28, which will take place in November 2023 at Expo City Dubai.

The conference will also feature a sustainability category at its annual exhibitor awards for the first time. Exhibiting organizations will be recognized based on the extent to which they have considered the environmental impact of their stands, as well as their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

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.

The latest ATM news stories are available at https://hub.wtm.com/category/press/atm-press-releases/.

To register for ATM 2023, please log on to: https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb/enquire.html.


For more information log on to wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html

About Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now in 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 https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html    

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 ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums. https://www.wtm.com/arabian-travel-week/en-gb.html     

About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities, and organizations. 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. www.rxglobal.com


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, and $47bn.*

*Note: Current market capitalization can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors

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 http://london.wtm.com/

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 http://latinamerica.wtm.com/

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 http://africa.wtm.com/

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. https://hub.wtm.com/

18.04.2023 Stockholm

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