With a total of 5,000 exhibitors representing 182 countries and regions doing business with 10,000 buyers, it is no surprise that WTM London expects to facilitate $3.9 billion in industry deals
We caught up with Simon Press, senior exhibition director, WTM, for more insight into this year’s show.
What’s new at this year’s WTM?
WTM London 2017 is poised to be the most successful yet. The leading global event for the travel industry will again be a three-day event following the overwhelming success of last year’s WTM London. WTM London 2016 was three days for the first time and attracted a record 51,500 attendance, including an all-time high of buyers (9,900), conducting £2.8 billion ($3.5 billion) in business deals.
It is expected WTM London 2017 will be the catalyst for an even greater amount of business, as an extra speed networking event has been added to the second day of the event, meaning all three days will host a speed networking event.
Among other highlights is the 300-seater WTM Inspire Theatre, a taste of ILTM joined by a new Wellness & Spa section on the exhibition floor, the WTM Speed Networking, and the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit.
How many new exhibitors have signed on? What kind of footfall are you expecting this year?
WTM London has around 5,000 exhibitors from 182 countries and regions conducting business deals with almost 10,000 buyers form the WTM Buyers’ Club. We expect business deals to reach £3 billion ($3.9 billion). This year, WTM London welcomes around 100 new exhibitors who will see for the first time how the event offers them an unrivalled platform to promote businesses.
What are the highlights from the Middle East this year? Who is new, who has returned?
With Expo 2020 on the horizon and a successful push to diversify economies away from a reliance on hydrocarbon receipts, travel professionals from the Middle East are heading to WTM London in November, in confident mood as they look to achieve a greater share of the multi-billion-dollar international travel market.
While Oman saw steady growth in visitors from Europe, with Britain and Germany among the top five tourism generating source markets. GCC nationals topped the number of tourist arrivals, followed by tourists from India, Britain and Germany.
Key exhibitors from the region this year include: Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ajman Tourism Development Department, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Oman Ministry of Tourism and Jordan Tourism Board. Other new exhibitors from the region include: Solar Empire Travel, Azar Gasht Aseman Ltd., Baghdad Hotel Company and Kurdistan Tourism.
According to figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in the Middle East was $227.1 billion (9.1 per cent of GDP) in 2016, and is forecast to rise by 5.2 per cent in 2017, and by 4.8 per cent pa to $381.9 billion (9.7 per cent of GDP) in 2027.
There are exciting times ahead for the Middle East, not least with the UAE set to host Expo 2020, with Dubai alone forecasting 160,000 hotel rooms in the emirate ahead of the world showcase opening.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see the large number of exhibitors already signed up for WTM London. It’s a reflection of the burgeoning growth in that part of the world and how the travel trade there recognises that WTM London is an important platform to both conduct business and boost awareness.
What are they key issues and topics that will shape this year’s knowledge programme?
This year, WTM London puts Social Media and Artificial Intelligence under the spotlight and will show how destinations market themselves as social media grows in importance. The issue will come under the spotlight for two days of the event on November 6 and 7, when panel discussions and a keynote speaker will feature during the Social Media programme at WTM London. Aviation and Brexit will also be discussed during the three-day show.
Key speakers include Alex Cruz, the chief executive of British Airways, who will head an impressive line-up of aviation high-fliers at WTM London. The British flag-carrier has experienced severe turbulence this year – a disastrous computer crash in May cost an estimated £80 million, and some of its cabin crew went on strike during the peak holiday months of July and August. The aviation sessions take place on Monday 6 November at The Inspire Theatre.
Also, the leading MEP, former Prime Minister of Belgium and European Parliament’s chief negotiator of Britain’s departure of the EU, Guy Verhofstadt, is the keynote speaker at the exclusive WTM Leaders’ Lunchon the first day of WTM 2017. A keen advocate of reform in the EU, Verhofstadt wants Europe to focus more on issues such as economic crises, crime and the disparity between rich and poor.
Overall, around 80 conference seminars will take place throughout the three days covering all the key sectors including aviation, hotels, responsible tourism, blogging, social media and travel technology having gastronomy, wedding and honeymoon as this year’s new topics.
Responsible tourism – should every travel organisation, be it an airline, hotel, car hire or tour operator, be a little bit more responsible this year and going forward?
World Travel Market Responsible Tourism unites the global travel industry, companies, organisations and professionals alike, to share sustainable practices and ethical methods and drive the responsible tourism agenda. World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD) is now the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world.
This year, WTM London has announced that the two key responsible tourism themes this edition will be what the travel industry should do about the emerging phenomenon of Overtourism; and how it should set about meeting the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The WTM London 2017 Industry Report found that the global travel industry is taking the environment more seriously this year than last. More details will be revealed the World Travel Market 2017 Industry Report released on November 6 at WTM London.
In the annual poll of industry professionals, 71 per cent of respondents said that the environment was quite (35 per cent) or extremely (36 per cent) important to their business. This is more than 10 per cent higher than last year, when the total was 31per cent and 30 per cent respectively. In both years, one in ten of the sample said that the environment was not at all or not very important.
It is more than possible to be both responsible and profitable. There are many examples of this amongst the WTM Responsible Tourism Day Awards winners.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.