WTM will move to new purpose-built centre

Jeffrey shows the new venue to London mayor Ken Livingstone.

The 23rd World Travel Market will move to a new purpose-built exhibition centre, a few miles away from its current home, next year, it was announced.

ExCeL, London's newest exhibition centre, will become the home of WTM 2002 which will be held from November 11-14, a decision that underpins WTM's long-term strategy to deliver better business opportunities to the international travel and tourism industry.

"Inevitably we will all be very sad to leave Earls Court after this year and I want to thank everyone there for their support and assistance over the years," said group exhibition director Fiona Jeffery who, with her team has been working on the ExCeL (Exhibition Centre London) project for nearly three years.

"However, this is a really positive move. Travel and tourism is a 'people's business' where the importance of business-to-business trade exhibitions cannot be underestimated.

"World Travel Market is a world class event and we need a world class venue and location that provides the backdrop for the event's development."

One of the attractions of ExCeL is it's setting, adjacent to Royal Victoria Dock in the very heart of London's Docklands. ExCeL lies two miles east of Canary Wharf and a further four miles from Trafalgar Square. London City Airport, providing access to 26 European destinations is a mere five minutes drive from the centre's eastern entrance.

This year's WTM, held from November 12-15, described by participants and organisers as "the most important ever" drew a total of 4,843 exhibitors from 171 countries.

Jeffery said at the start of the event that the exceptional circumstances currently facing the worldwide industry had strengthened many people's feelings about the importance of taking part this year.

"I have received hundreds of messages of support and goodwill from exhibitors and visitors who believe that it is absolutely vital for the industry to signal to consumers that the industry is open for business as usual," she said.

Meanwhile, the venue for 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City in Utah, United States, put its preparation for the event on show at the WTM.

The Utah delegation at the WTM staged a "Taste of Utah" celebration at its stand giving visitors a glimpse of what is in store at the Olympic venue in February.

"For the past six years, we have been building, polishing, and gearing up for the event, and the city's infrastructure has blossomed in anticipation of hosting the world," said a delegate.

"Brand new four-and five-star hotels, world class shopping, spectacular new attractions and a more vibrant nightlife are all part of the newly renovated city."