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Stellar seminar line-up sets the agenda at ATM 2016

More than 50 wide-ranging seminar and tech theatre sessions are scheduled at Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which is taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre from 25-28 April 2016. Panellists will be flying in from around the world to contribute to discussions, with topics including mid-market travel, luxury, aviation, technology trends, spa and wellness tourism, business, adventure and halal tourism. 
The opening session, ‘The Future of the UAE As A Global Tourism Hub’, is taking place on 25 April from 13:00 - 14:30 on the ATM Global Stage located in Hall 8 and has an impressive line-up of speakers. Panellists Issam Kazim, CEO, Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DCTCM); Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO Shurooq; Sultan Al Mutawa Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director, Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi); Gerald Lawless, Head of Tourism, Dubai Holding and Honorary President, Jumeirah Group; Thierry Antinori, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Emirates Airline; and Aligi Gardenghi - VP Marketing EMEA and Commercial Director MEA, Hilton Worldwide will discuss the grand vision for the UAE as one of the world’s leading tourism hubs and how will it evolve over the next decade and beyond. 
The session will be moderated by Zeinab Badawi, Broadcast Presenter, BBC World News, who will steer the speakers through talking points such as unique selling points of each emirate and their tourism goals, the important role played by the UAE’s aviation infrastructure and airline industry, new mega projects in the pipeline and how Expo 2020 is set to put the UAE on the global tourism map. 
Visitor statistics and hotel development across the emirates is showing signs of positive growth. Abu Dhabi experienced 4,105,846 hotel guest arrivals in 2015 – an 18% rise on the previous year – with an additional 1,000 hotel keys delivered, increasing supply to 20,700 keys by the year-end. 
Welcoming 14.2 million visitors in 2015 – a rise of 7.5% on 2014 – Dubai is now a step closer to achieving its target of 20 million visitors by 2020. The hotel market saw the addition of 6,000 hotel keys in 2015, increasing the total supply to 98,330 keys according to Dubai Tourism.
Highlighting the mid-market show theme, which is officially sponsored by Louvre Hotels, is the ‘Mid-market Strategies’ session, taking place on 26 April from 13:15 - 14:15 on the ATM Global Stage. It is designed specifically to identify who the midmarket traveller is, where they come from and what they want. Panelists include Mark Nogal, Regional Head, Focused Service Brand Management, EMEA, Hilton Worldwide; Dr Amine Moukarzel, President, Louvre Hotels Group MENA; Karim ElGuanaini, Senior VP of Product Marketing, Miral Asset Management (Yas Island) and Ali Abu Monassar, President, The Vision Destination Management. 
Responsible tourism is another key focus and will headline several seminar theatre sessions devoted to the topic including ‘Coping With Success – The Sustainability Challenge in the Region’, taking place on 26 April from 14:15 - 14:45 in the Google Showcase Theatre. Solaiman Al Rifai, Senior Manager, Dubai Tourism Development and Investment and Chris Warren, Founder, Warren & Associates will discuss how the region can adapt to address the challenge of increasing volumes of visitors at the destination level.
Over in the Travel Tech Theatre, highlights include headline session ‘Mobile Engagement: Geo-Fencing, Beacons and Service Design in Travel’ taking place on 25 Apr from 14:30 - 15:30 Travel Tech Theatre. Led by Nick Hall, CEO and Founder, Digital Tourism Think Tank, the session will spotlight where mobile has come and where it is heading, as well as how to affordably deploy and scale the latest smartphone technology.
Now in its 23rd year, ATM 2016 will build on the success of this year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements earlier this year. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 15% to over 26,000, with exhibiting companies increasing by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion were signed over the four days. 

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