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WIT Middle East to uncover the region’s potential

Web In Travel (WIT), which runs the largest and highest level online travel conference in Asia Pacific, will hold a Middle East edition in Dubai on March 26-27, 2014.

DUBAI – The first WIT Middle East will uncover the region’s travel story, unearth the opportunities and promise of one of the world’s wealthiest regions and share stories from local and global players all wanting a slice of this market.

Yeoh Siew Hoon, editor and founder of WIT, said, “We’re pleased to bring our signature conference to the Middle East. It’s the next new frontier in online travel and it is a huge travel market for Asia, both as a source of travellers and as an inbound destination.

“We’ve had requests from the industry there that a WIT-like event is needed to spark innovation and entrepreneurship and we’re glad to be working with a local partner, Dubai-based BizGate Marketing and Consultancy, to bring this catalyst to the region and to ensure we layer global content with local characteristics.”

WIT was launched in 2005 in Singapore to bring thought leadership around the dynamic and changing online travel space. Since then, WIT editions have been held in Indonesia and Japan and it has held workshops and events across the region, including Australia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia.

According to a PayPal report done with Ipsos on MENA (Middle East & North Africa), there are 110 million Internet users in the region, with 30 million already shopping online. The study projects that online spending in MENA will grow from $9 billion in 2012 to $15 billion by 2015.

Travel is the biggest item bought online, with an average $1,521 spent each year.

The United Arab Emirates is the largest e-commerce market in the Middle East, with consumers spending $2.9 billion online last year. And it is also the most mature market for travel and tourism, accounting for 47% of the total market and 60% of the online market in the Middle East according to the “Assessing The Online Travel Opportunity: The Middle East report” by PhoCusWright and co-sponsored by Amadeus.

PhoCusWright projects that the total online travel market in the UAE will grow from $4.8 billion in 2011 to $9.5 billion in 2014.

Other facts uncovered in the report:

• Smartphones represent 62% of total mobile phones in the UAE. 43% of these users browse the Internet for travel-related information and 54% make an online purchase.

• Gross bookings made by Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) are expected to rise from $1.7 billion in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2014.

• Gross bookings by traditional airlines are anticipated to increase from $16.5 billion in 2011 to $26.2 billion in 2014 and low cost carriers (LLCs) to increase from $1.4 billion in 2011 to $2 billion in 2014.

• Bookings made in the lodging segment have been estimated to rise from $6.1 billion in 2011 to $7.5 billion in 2014, while the UAE car rental space is expected to see an increase from $76 million bookings in 2011 to $84.4 million in 2014.

“The WIT Middle East programme will blend global insights with local knowledge to create a learning platform that’s tailored to the needs of the Middle Eastern market. We will do what we love to do – spark learning and inspiration, blend seasoned voices from industry leaders with new ideas from start-ups and students and build an engaged community around our content,” said Siew Hoon.

Dubai-based BizGate, a marketing and consultancy firm specializing in travel and leisure, will co-manage WIT events in UAE, then KSA and Turkey in the following years.

“We are very delighted to be working with the reputed team of WIT in launching this event in the region. This reflects our commitment to bridge the gap of the industry’s need for information and knowledge on online travel’s fast-paced trends,” commented Angeline Rivera of BizGate Marketing and Consultancy.

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