WTM Preview Scene set for a feast of travel November 2003 229 Organisers of World Travel Market (WTM) expect to increase the size of the exhibition by more than five per cent when it opens the doors at London ExCeL between November 10-13. The global event now has a record 189 exhibiting countries, an increase of five more countries compared to last year – Vietnam, Bonaire, Abu Dhabi, Albania and Belarus.In addition, there are five new regions who are either participating at World Travel Market for the first time or are returning after several years absence – Lonion Islands, Rodos, Illinois, Chicago and Heart of England.There are also more than one hundred new exhibiting companies and organisations across the world participating at this year’s World Travel Market.Asia leads the way with a rise in exhibition space of up to nine per cent - its greatest expansion ever – with the Africa region increasing by nine per cent and Europe by seven per cent, compared to last years figures.Fiona Jeffery, group exhibition director described the latest results as 'fantastic'.'It is still too early to forecast the final numbers, but based on current predictions, it is clear that exhibitors view World Travel Market as a compelling must-attend event to invest in the future and continue to build solid business.”Jeffery points to a raft of cost-cutting initiatives designed to help exhibitors struggling with the ‘cold winds’ of a difficult economic climate as a contributing factor to the expected strong support for the event this year.This included, for example, the introduction of a three-year price freeze, a ten per cent Early Bird discount on basic stand essentials such as electrics and rigging and negotiated special rates for flights and local London transport. In conjunction with hotel specialist Expotel, organisers have also identified and negotiated a wider choice of budget, two, three and four star accommodation, conveniently situated close to ExCeL as well as hotels in central London locations.During the past year, World Travel Market has also been working closely with VisitBritain, Visit London, the London Development Agency and all UK exhibitors to ensure a strengthened UK and Ireland region of the exhibition.This includes a dedicated and branded entrance, introduction of the new Youth Pavilion in association with The British Educational Travel Association (BETA), a co-ordinated London Pavilion and an improved communication and promotional campaign.The World Travel Market Stage has been located at the area with a strong programme of debates, presentations and features.'The Stage remains an extremely popular heart to the exhibition,” said Jeffery, 'And is expected to attract additional visitors to the UK and Ireland region.'Many new as well as regular well loved initiatives are featured on the WTM Stage as well as a full programme of seminars, workshops and training sessions located in the many function rooms at ExCeL.