Call to join fightback


Faced with cutbacks, job losses and unprecedented global challenges, the World Travel Market (WTM) this month is to be a major focus of the international travel and tourism industry in its battle to fight back.

"The industry has been injured, but it will never lie down and die", said WTM group exhibition director Fiona Jeffery.

WTM which will be held at Earls Court, London, from November 12-15, is expected to attract representatives from more than 170 countries.

"There is too much character and determination, too much investment and too many peoples lives depending on it," said Jeffery.

"That is why the event is now being viewed as a significant forum, a demonstration of unity and strength, a chance to talk, debate and address constructively and realistically a strategy that will put the industry back on course."

Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, WTM organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions, in conjunction with industry leaders, have responded with a special programme of action, briefings and debate that will help and brief more than 5,000 exhibitors, an estimated 26,000 visitors and nearly 3,000 consumer and trade media.

This includes two significant industry coalitions - one for travel and leisure, and the other for the incentive, business travel and meetings sector - where industry leaders aim to start work on a 'blueprint' that addresses the problems.

"The programme is called 'The Industry Fights Back' because it typifies and responds to the approach and courage of thousands of exhibitors and visitors - from the US and throughout the world - who have been sending us personal messages of encouragement," said Jeffery.

"Not only does the industry feel that it is important to show the world that we are carrying on business as usual, but also to use this opportunity positively and for universal good."

The opening ceremony will use the theme 'Peace Through Tourism', when children of the world, dressed in authentic national costumes and representing 30 countries, will light a candle to burn throughout all four days of the event.

The poignant and memorable ceremony, produced by international choreographer Ruth Trantor and BBC presenter, Leonard Pearcey, will feature UK television actor, Christopher Saul.

* A presentation by one of the world's top business gurus. A popular television presenter and former international sports woman hosts a new fun and serious quiz. A well-known campaigning journalist with a novel means to bring alive green issues. The largest industry seminar programme ever held and a chance to sample some of the planet's most delicious food and drinks.

These are just some of the highlights of this month's World Travel Market Discovery days on November 14 and 15.

The two-day schedule is designed to offer something for everyone working in the travel and tourism industry - from agents to middle and senior management who are not buyers, but who are performing a valuable role within the industry.

"There are many people within the industry who are not buyers and do not qualify for Meridian Club membership," said Jeffery.