The Middle East’s biggest travel trade show, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), has attracted some 2,100 exhibitors and stand sharers this year, 15% up on 2009. Speaking at a press conference yesterday (Monday), Mark Walsh, Group Exhibition Director for the event’s organiser, Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE), said the Middle East had demonstrated creativity and resilience during recession. “Last year all the focus was on the financial situation; this year we’re seeing real positivity. More than 60 tourist boards are taking part and there’s real scope for future growth.” He said ATM acted as a barometer for the industry’s health and despite having a more robust economy in 2007 and 2008, the exhibition was now bigger now due to “increased interest in the tourism industry”.This year the show will have representatives from countries that have not previously exhibited including Fiji and Romania. In addition, show organisers expect to see greater participation from Eastern European countries and cruise ship operators. “Cruise is one of the biggest growth areas we need to look at,” explained Walsh. “There will be strong focus on this sector in 2010.” Meanwhile, Emirates Airline Senior Vice president, Commercial Operations Worldwide Richard Vaughan, said ATN played an integral role in the growth and success of the region’s travel industry.”As key players from all sectors seek ways to build business in challenging economic times, it has an even more important role to play,” he added. In the next few days ATM is expected to attract more than 140 hosted buyers covering a range of sectors including leisure, golf tourism, and MICE.Around 35 UK buyers are known to be attending this year’s show.