'WOW' show to kick off record event

The countdown begins ... Graeme Barnett, event manager World Travel Market (left) and Jeffery.

A River Thames spectacular, featuring the UK's Royal Marines, helicopters, illuminated speed boats, lasers, coloured lights, aquatic pyrotechnics, music, fireworks and community choirs are part of the welcome extravaganza for the World Travel Market (WTM) 2002.

The event, which runs from November 11 to 14, is expected to draw record crowds. This year's WTM will have more space than any of the preceding events.

The party for the world's leading business-to-business event marks its move to the new state-of-the-art waterside 'home' of ExCeL in London's Eastside.

World Travel Market's Official Welcome - WOW for short - is being staged on behalf of the east side of London business and tourism community, with assistance from TourEast London and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, champion of the regeneration that has transformed the area into 'the new London' and ExCeL.

Fiona Jeffery, group exhibition director, said, "This will certainly be a first for WTM and signals the start of a new era of dual growth for the event, in its new, spacious surroundings as well as the international industry as it looks to its future development. The spectacular is being produced at differing levels, so where ever you view it, you will be in for a WOW."

Timed to start after the event closes for the evening, Jeffery hopes many visitors will stay on for a short while to watch the spectacular and enjoy the fun before moving on to another social engagement. ExCeL will remain open afterwards to serve drinks in the bars.

Continued Jeffery: "We have been working closely with the local business and tourism community during the past two years, and we are grateful for the way they have supported us. WOW is a mark of that support for World Travel Market and the warmth of their welcome to everyone attending the event.

"All transport and operational arrangements are being scrutinised down to the last detail, ensuring that all participants are able to travel to and enjoy the first World Travel Market at ExCeL."

The Greater London Authority, through the London Development Agency is supporting the party with funding of £50,000 ($78,100) which is being matched by ExCeL and other partners and acknowledges the major economic and tourism benefits of World Travel Market moving to the east side of London.

Said Livingstone, "WTM is the world's largest and most important business to business international travel and tourism event of its kind, where the 'world' comes together to shape the industry for the following year and beyond.

London is rightly home to this event as it is a world-class city that is the gateway to other UK cities and regions and one of the world's leading tourist destinations.

"London's tourism industry employs more than 275,000 people directly and contributes more than £9 billion to London's economy and we can improve on this.