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Twice the fun at top show

WTM London 2022, packed with industry-relevant content and choice networking opportunities, has reported
an encouraging increase in visitors, buyers and exhibitors when compared to 2021

CEO of RX Global, Hugh Jones, inaugurates WTM London with Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, and Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive Officer, Saudi Tourism Authority

World Travel Market (WTM) London, which took place from November 7 to 9, welcomed more than 35,800 people, presenting over double the attendance than that of 2021. One of the key attendee types at WTM London – global travel buyers – were up 25 per cent compared with 2021. In addition to that, WTM London saw ministerial representation from 55 nations across the world – up 15 per cent on 2021, 165 per cent increase in exhibiting personnel versus 2021, and over 1,500 media in attendance – representing over 70 per cent increase on 2021.

2022 attendance at WTM London showcases a sector in recovery and demonstrates an appetite to do business and meet face-to-face.

Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director, WTM London, said: “Attendance at this year’s World Travel Market was fantastic! WTM London is a microcosm of the travel sector – where participation mirrors industry sentiment – it’s encouraging to see this level of engagement as tourism reaches towards full recovery – and of course demonstrates the importance of face-to-face events.

“We doubled down on creating an event which prioritised buyers, business deals and trading, and initial results seem to show that we met that goal – which we’re thrilled about.’’

“That said, we don’t rest for long – and have no room for complacency. We’ve already started work and planning to ensure 2023 will be better than ever!”

 

DAY ONE

Sustainability was the green thread running through Day One of WTM London, with themes such as accessible travel, diversity and inclusion – and how responsible tourism is good for business.

Shannon Guihan, Chief Sustainability Officer for The Travel Corporation, which incorporates 40 brands, stressed success in carbon reduction should not be seen as a competitive advantage for individual companies but rather “something we need to do together as an industry”.

Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive at the Saudi Tourism Authority, said climate change has been “factored into” the destination’s 2030 vision.

Delegates also heard how there is a growing consumer demand for responsible travel.

Danielle D’Silva, Head of Sustainability for Booking.com, said demand is growing across all markets. Research carried out by Booking.com reveals 81 per cent say responsible travel is important, 71 per cent want to travel sustainably in the next 12 months – an increase of 10 per cent on last year.

Anne Dimon, Wellness Tourism Association President and Chief Executive, said: “People need to feel their tourism dollar is going to the local community,”, adding that a selection of ‘clean eating’ restaurants, with local produce was a must.

 

DAY TWO

Pandemic recovery, recruitment issues and sustainability took centre stage on day two of WTM London.

Day two of WTM London hosted dignitaries at this year’s Tourism Ministers Summit, while Responsible Tourism subjects included ‘green hushing’ and offered an alternative interpretation on space tourism and all-inclusive tourism. Elsewhere, the youth market’s contribution to Covid recovery and recruitment issues were discussed – while the youngest-ever Dragon shared the secrets of his success on the Future Stage.

Tourism ministers from around the globe say supporting local workers and small businesses is a vital element of the sector’s sustainable recovery from the pandemic.

The politicians joined private sector bosses at the Ministers’ Summit at World Travel Market, in association with the UNWTO and WTTC. They agreed sustainability and tackling the climate crisis must be top of their agenda but highlighted how training tourism staff and encouraging entrepreneurs and SMEs will boost local and regional economies, helping them to be more resilient.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organisation, told ministers the sector must urgently rethink tourism as it can be a solution to the climate emergency and need for jobs.

Tourism ministers who shared their ideas for reshaping the sector came from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Egypt, Portugal, Bahrain, Mauritius, Mexico, Ecuador, Philippines, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Croatia, Ethiopia and more.

An expert panel heard how hundreds of thousands of vacancies were not being filled because travel brands, post-pandemic, could not afford salaries offered elsewhere, while staff let go during Covid had found better pay and conditions outside the industry.

Commercial space travel will prompt a new industrial revolution that will far outweigh the environmental damage it causes, Will Whitehorn, Chair of Seraphim Space Investment, claimed.

He said the space industry’s image of the rich joyriding was misunderstood despite the estimated 1,000 tonnes of CO2 emitted for each flight. “People think it’s for scientists and billionaires – space is the only way we are going to get to net zero with a population of nine billion.”

 

DAY THREE

Inclusion was a key theme of day three at WTM with greater diversity suggested as a way to help widen both recruitment and customer bases. Technology was predicted to become rapidly more important to travel in the next five years with customers using VR for ‘try before you buy’ experiences. Meanwhile the final sustainability sessions saw a call for an industry-wide single certification system to avoid ‘greenwashing’.

A United Nations-led pilot project to “put women at the centre of recovery efforts after Covid” has reaped rewards after research showed a higher percentage of women in tourism lost their jobs than men during the pandemic. As a result of the pilot, 175 people in Costa Rica had been trained on gender equality, 124 women employees had received a promotion and 50 per cent of participating businesses now offer maternity leave of 14 weeks.

Turning to responsible tourism, Euromonitor pointed out however that there was “a disconnect” between the level of travellers’ desire to travel more sustainably and travel companies’ action in this area.  

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