This year’s World Travel Market at ExCeL in London, for which Irish Travel Trade News is the Official Media Partner in Ireland, attracted many representatives from the Irish travel trade – as well as many buyers from worldwide. Simon Press, WTM Senior Director, said: “WTM 2014 is predicted to facilitate around £2.5 billion (€3.2bn) in industry deals and is poised to be the best-ever attended.”
The first two and a half days of WTM 2014 experienced a 7% increase in visitors, including buyers. Monday, Tuesday and up to 1pm on Wednesday saw percentage year-on-year increases for visitors, and overall participants, with all delegates including visitors, buyers, international media and exhibitor personnel up 5%. According to unaudited figures, WTM 2014 had a total of 82,213 visits compared to 78,035 at 1pm on the third day of the 2013 event.
The first day (Monday 3rd November) with its invite-only visitor attendance was up 9% on last year’s event to almost 9,692. This includes a 13% increase in invited WTM Buyers’ Club members. Exhibitor personnel were up 3% to 12,289. Tuesday 4th November brought 19,706 visitors, an 8% increase on the second day of last year’s event.
ExCeL is a great venue for the event, with plenty of space for the exhibitors, an easy-to-work layout, and good connections to all of London with the Docklands Light Railway. The sheer size of the venue can mean a lot of trekking back and forth – emphasising the importance of pre-planning one’s visit and making as many appointments as one can. However, there never seems to be enough seats for visitors in the walkway between the North and South Halls for those who want a bite to eat, or simply to rest their weary legs.
Numerous tourist boards held on-site or off-site media conferences or receptions, including Tenerife, Catalonia / Costa Daurada, Visit Florida, Czech Republic, India, Spain, Germany, Tunisia, and Gran Canaria.
A very visible sponsor of WTM 2014 was Visit Flanders, with ‘poppy transfers’ on the floor leading visitors to the Europe section and the 2014-18 Flanders Fields stand, where the many centenaries of World War One events over the coming four years were being promoted (along with a beer seminar!).
Over in the Middle East section, Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing was displaying its new brand logo and highlighting the appeal of Dubai as a leading family destination, as well as its emergence as a gastronomy destination and the return in 2015 of the Dubai Food Festival, a 22-day programme of events, activities and mall and restaurant activations created to highlight the diverse food offering of the emirate, from 5-star gourmet to quality street food and the menus of the 200 nationalities who live in Dubai.
Nearby, on the Qatar stand, the new Doha-based Al Rayyan hospitality development group was displaying large models of three new major resort destinations – the 13-hectare (32-acre) 5-star Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara with over-water villas (opening on 15th November 2014); the 104-hectare (257-acre) 362-room Hilton Salwa Beach Resort & Villas (2016); and the 13-hectare (33-acre) Al Messila Resort & VIP Spa in central Doha with a 5-star 120-room hotel, 30 luxury villas and fitness/spa centre (2017/2018).
Meanwhile, over in the Asia section, the Tourism Authority of Thailand launched its new marketing and promotions campaign, Discover Thainess 2015, with the new logo officially unveiled on the Thailand stand by the newly appointed Minister of Tourism & Sport, H.E. Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul (see separate story).