Visitor numbers rise as WTM calls for government support

Jeffery... growth potential

THE World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, saw an impressive five per cent increase in visitors compared to 2010 and a 10 per cent increase from 2009. Over 28,000 visitors (28,183) attended WTM 2011 compared to 26,908 last year, revealed unaudited figures.

Day one, an exhibitor invite only day, saw impressive visitor numbers up by a massive 14 per cent on WTM 2010. The exhibitor invite-only day was established with an aim of allowing exhibitors to hold discussions and negotiations with those people that they want to conduct business with and saw more than 7,600 (7,614) exhibitor invitations visitors attend, according to unaudited figures.

Further, over 200 of the exhibitor invitees’ buyers took part in the highly successful Speed Networking session, which took place for the first time before the exhibition opened to allow even more time for exhibitors and buyers from WTM Meridian Club to negotiate and conclude deals at WTM 2011. 29 luxury travel buyers had pre-scheduled business appointments with 37 luxury travel brands in the session – A Taste of ILTM at WTM. It is the first time WTM has hosted a pre-scheduled appointment session.

Over 90 per cent of Meridian Club members had previously polled stating that they expect to conduct a greater amount of business this year over 2010, which generated a record £1.425 billion ($2.240 billion) in industry deals. (Official figures for 2011 were not released when TTN went to press.)

World Travel Market chairman Fiona Jeffery opened the show urging governments to do more to support the travel and tourism. Speaking at the World Travel Market VIP opening & reception ceremony, Jeffery said the industry provided more than 235 million jobs last year, representing eight per cent of international employment. She also highlighted its potential for further growth with international tourist arrivals forecast to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.

Jeffery also highlighted the damage actively done to the travel and tourism industry by the world’s Governments, citing the UK Government’s planned increase in Air Passenger Duty, the fourth in five years, as well as the US Government’s proposed $25 billion raid on airline passengers in the US.

Jeffery said: “While the underlying trend is one of growth for the travel and tourism industry, Governments around the world have it in their power to make a big difference and ensure their countries are reaping the benefits of this vital trade.
“The industry has gone through some tough times recently and with more on the immediate horizon, we would urge the world’s Governments to start considering the positive changes they can make now, both in the short and long term.”

The four-day event saw over 300 expert speakers appear in 111 seminars, making this year’s WTM the biggest ever.