The 36th edition of World Travel Market held at Excel in London attracted thousands of travel and tourism professionals. Ragasudha Vinjamuri reviews the event for Asian Lite News
The phenomenal annual B-to-B travel event sees who’s who in the tourism and hospitality business and draws hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of buyers including worldwide destinations, destination management companies, airlines, hotels, travel and tour operators, tourism boards, travel education and technology experts, car rentals and the like.
Several thousands have descended on ExCeL Exhibition Centre yet again, to take part in WTM, one of the biggest International Travel Trade Shows. Administered by Reed Exhibitions, WTM draws 5000 exhibitors, technology and private sector companies and about 50, 000 attendees including ministers, travel industry professionals, key buyers, digital influencers, representatives of international media, and also students. The event is expected to be generating a massive £3 billion worth of business in three days and shall also include discussions on trends, issues and innovations in the travel industry.
This year’s official premier partner is ITALIA, the National Tourism body of Italy.
While emerging economies and destinations continue to aggressively promote themselves, there is also a conscious and substantial effort in recognising the impact of the increased tourism on communities, ecosystems and environment. As the phenomenon of travel is changing, so is the focus of World Travel Market. Hence sustainable practices in travel and tourism sector and responsible tourism have been key elements for WTM, which has been exhibiting at ExCeL since 2002. WTM Awards have also been instituted for the first time, which will start to be conferred at the next year’s event.
Incredible India pavilion saw different states displaying their best of tourism products, attractions, culture and heritage aspects, ranging from established touristy places to new companies such as Girisons Airways that started helicopter tours to Ajanta & Ellora Caves and as far as to Taj Mahal from Mumbai. States such as Andhra Pradesh have displayed their dance forms for the visitors.
At the IIPT Global Ambassadors of Peace through Tourism Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of UNWTO, while HRH Princess Dana Firas of Jordan, Fiona Jeffery- Founder of Just a Drop Foundation, Anita Mendiratta- thought leader and founder of Cachet Consulting, David Scowsill, past president of WTTC and Costas Christ, CEO of Beyond Green Travel, Geoffrey Lipman, Director of Green Growth and Travelism Institute were conferred Global Ambassador Awards. Jaykumar Rawal, Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra has spoken eloquently on tourism as a messenger of peace referring to the Sanskrit saying ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam and comparing tourism with art forms traversing across communities and continents. Ajay Prakash, President of IIPT-India and Louis D’Amore- Founder President of IIPT have addressed the audiences highlighting the event significance.
At the World Tourism Award s 2017, H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda has been honoured for Visionary Leadership for his work in wildlife conservation, sustainable tourism and economic development that has turned around Rwanda as one of the sought after destinations in Africa.