WTM 2005: out of the world!


To be honest, I’m absolutely over the moon – it has been a phenomenal World Travel Market (WTM),” Fiona Jeffery, group exhibition director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, told TTN as the curtains came down on WTM 2005.

For four days (November 14 to 17), ExCeL London was abuzz with activity as around 45,000 participants interacted with each other and struck some £33 billion worth of business.
By all accounts, WTM 2005 was the place to be for anyone who wanted to be seen and counted in the world of travel and tourism. “WTM 2005 is the largest one we have ever run in 26 years and we’ve had more visitors everyday at the WTM than the previous year,” added Jeffery. “There was a fantastic buzz around the whole place and I knew it was business as usual for the exhibitors and the visitors.”
Indeed, it was business as usual as the largest-ever WTM saw an increase of more than 4 per cent in exhibitor space, leaving the venue bursting at the seams as a total of 5,194 national tourist offices, industry organisations, tour operators, hotels, cruise lines, airlines, other transport operators and technology companies from 202 representative countries and regions participated at the much-awaited exhibition. There were as many as 126 new exhibitors including Cox & Kings, The Claridges, Yemen, Etihad Airways, Kuwait, Port Ghalib, Agadir, Pyramids Golf and Saudi Arabian Airlines. And the organisers were delighted to welcome back a number of exhibitors to WTM after an absence including the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Colorado, Massachusetts and a large number of the Canadian provinces, territories and tourism partners.
“The amount of business activity at the WTM is also reflected in the continuing growth of the global industry,” pointed out Jeffery. “According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), an estimated 460 million international tourist arrivals were recorded worldwide in the first seven months of this year. This represents an increase of some 25 million arrivals compared with the respective period of 2004, or 5.9 per cent growth.”
For those who wanted to have their pulse on the latest in the travel and tourism industry there was no better place to be than the World Stage, which was the venue for a number of thought-provoking panel discussion chaired by the leaders of the industry.
As for the participants from the Middle East, they couldn’t have asked for better as airlines and hotels from the region bagged several top honours. “Again, we had an extremely strong turnout from the Middle East,” said Jeffery. “In fact, the Middle East has been our fastest growing market and we are delighted that most of the destinations from the Middle East participated at the exhibition. Dubai is always the strongest one, but others also made their presence felt including Jordan and Abu Dhabi, which won the best stand design this year. So, I am absolutely thrilled to bits with the interest shown from the Middle East.”

By Shafquat Ali