Arabian Travel Market 2015 spotlights family travel

Jane Wilson, editor of The Healthcare Holiday, reports on the main theme of this year’s exhibition

Family centric travel was the main theme at this year’s Arabian Travel Market in Dubai. The focus capitalized on the trend towards multi-generational travel and the increase in high-net worth families seeking luxury experiences. Hotel packages across the emirates are now aiming to keep travellers entertained and within budget.

Dubai is certainly ticking all the boxes with huge projects on the brink of completion. Dubai Parks and Resorts opens in October 2016 as the region’s largest multi-themed leisure and entertainment attraction. It will include Legoland, Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, connected by Riverland Dubai and a Polynesian-themed family resort.

IMG Worlds of Adventure will provide the world’s largest indoor temperature controlled themed entertainment destination and will offer multi-day passes to accommodate for longer family stays.

On the family theme, Etihad Airways already offers a Flying Nanny service to provide boarding and inflight assistance by trained attendants. And aiming high, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is planning to break new records with its “Flying Acres” as the world’s steepest steel rollercoaster featuring a starting hill inclined by 51 degrees and the world’s tallest loop of 52m. Later this year sees the opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in 2017 in its Saadiyat Cultural District.

According to Thomson Reuters’ data, the value of the global family tourism market was $140 billion in 2013 and set to rise to over $180 billion by 2018 with growth expected to continue at a rate of 4.79% annually until 2020.

Sharjah unveiled its latest tourism and leisure project, Al Noor Island and is the Arab world’s first island to combine nature, art and entertainment.

Over $8.48 billion in projects are underway in Qatar to include Doha Festival City, 57 hotels and resorts, 22 shopping venues, 11 theme parks and of course, the FIFA World Cup football stadiums.

Luxury hospitality is a major focus in Oman with properties to include Westin, St Regis and W as well as the new US$200 million Ritz Carlton – The Muscat Reserve and the high-end Saraya Bandar Jissah Resort valued at US$840 million.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, part of The Minor Group, continue their strategic expansion in the MENA region. In January this year, Anantara opened their first property in Qatar with the Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara. Later this year the Anantara Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman will open while the Anantara Al Baleed Resort in Salalah City, Dhofar Coast, in the south of Oman will open in 2016. The Group’s private polo resort in Dubai’s countryside has an elevated status and has been rebranded as PER AQUUM Desert Palm.

The Middle East cruise industry is also buoyant. With the opening of Hamdan bin Mohammad Cruise Terminal last December, Dubai welcomed record cruise numbers. In January 150,000 cruise tourists arrived on more than 30 ships. Oman’s coastal cities such as Muscat, Khasab and Salalah are becoming popular cruise stops, while Abu Dhabi’s ambitious growth plans are supported by the emirate’s dedicated 8,000 sq. metre cruise terminal at Zayed Port which will be fully open for the 2016/7 season

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, the UAE will retain its position as a regional tourism leader, with the sector valued at US$31.8 billion by the end of 2018. The Arabian Travel Market is an annual event and this year saw growth by 7%, showcasing 2,700 exhibitors, 64 national pavilions, with 86 countries represented.

Dubai and many other countries also offer the full range of medical procedures.

To find out more about medical tourism visit Jane’s website