World Travel Market 2007 was the largest event ever staged with record results, un-audited figures reveal.
Total numbers of delegates rose 3% to 48,687, Meridian Club buyers increased by more than 12% to nearly 13,000 and international participants went up by 9.5%. Visitor numbers increased to 23,802, a hike of 5.6%.
The draw of the important, high profile UNWTO Ministers Summit on Tourism and Climate Change, hosted by World Travel Market on the second day of the event, was evident.
A total of 124 Tourism Ministers, an increase of nearly 41% compared to 2006, ratified a Declaration, presented to the United Nations Summit on Climate Change in Bali next month.
Results reflect growing evidence that more exhibitors are conducting business with other exhibitors during the four days, with a further rise in the number of exhibiting personnel, now up more than 2% to 20,461. This followed the introduction of the advanced Super PEP or Personal Event Planner, making it even easier for exhibitors to do business with one another.
Last year, independent research showed that £9 billion of business was conducted between exhibitors alone at the London event.
The amount of exhibition space also went up by 2%.
The business drive has been underlined by many visitors, especially Meridian Club members and exhibitors. Ivo Van de Velde of Carlson Wagonlit Travel for example, said: “After a short break of a year, I returned to World Travel Market and I am glad I did. By the end of day one, I had signed a contract for 175 rooms and £175,000 with Presidente Intercontinental Hotels, Mexico. I will definitely be back next year!”
“This was definitely one of the best year’s for new contacts just walking up to our stand and wanting to do business”, said Oonah McCullagh, UK Representative for Kissimmee Tourism and Naples, Marco Island & Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They included important new contacts for us in television and print media in Europe.”
“This was a phenomenal result, not only for World Travel Market, but also for the thousands of exhibitors and visitors whose primary focus was to expand their businesses, identify new markets and network with middle and senior management from virtually every country in the world”, said Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market.
“We had strengthened the event by a programme of heavyweight strategic content that proved a considerable attraction to all delegates. World Travel Market is first for international business but is also helping to shape and drive the industry agenda.
“Our figures are always audited and these statistics have not yet been officially recognised. But we are confident that they mirror an accurate assessment of four days of non-stop business, debate and education.”
However, Jeffery believes that World Travel Market was also an iconic moment for other reasons.
“Wednesday saw the first ever WTM World Responsible Tourism Day”, she said. “Despite the amazing work by many around the globe, there is still a great deal to be done to make the international industry more caring and sustainable. So far we have hardly scratched the surface.
“The public and private sector and the business leaders of tomorrow need to understand the issues at stake and we were delighted at this enthusiastic response.
“The official opening of this day of action with the Polar explorer and international environmentalist Pen Hadow was completely over subscribed,” said Jeffery. “Many delegates had to watch the speeches, debates and presentations from the live broadcast on giant screens in the Central Boulevard at ExCeL London.
“The approach to greater responsible tourism and climate change - two of the biggest challenges facing the international industry - undoubtedly provoked many more people to stop and think.
“Individuals, companies, organisations and governments can no longer turn their backs. The time to act is now.”
Jeffery said the momentum for WTM World Responsible Tourism Day would be stepped up in 2008 as increasing industry professionals get behind the movement. “This is not about World Travel Market”, she added.” It’s about taking the industry to a fresh and more enlightened era of responsibility before it’s too late.”
She said the WTM World Responsible Tourism Day hotline (+44 (0)1732 866121) will continue as well as the global campaign to inspire others to participate. The dedicated WTM World Responsible Tourism Day website www.wtmwrtd.com will be regularly updated, including details of how the industry can get involved and how to apply for the WTM World Responsible Tourism Day logo.
There were also four other strategic themes reflected in more than 70 events taking place over the four days. Leading experts and panelists participated in workshops, debates and presentations on airlines, hotels, gay and lesbian tourism and spa, health and wellness.
The World Travel Market Global Trends Report, in association with Euromonitor International also highlighted emerging tourism demands.
On the opening day, more than 100 senior industry leaders were present at World Travel Market’s Captains of Industry Lunch, in aid of the water-aid charity Just a Drop, founded by Jeffery nine years ago. During the week, Just a Drop raised more than £25,000.
Hundreds of agents and many leading sector organisations, destinations and brands took part in World Travel Market’s Travel Agents Day on the final day of the event.
Partners included the Institute of Travel & Tourism’s Skills Zone, Association of Cruise Experts (ACE), the newly re-christened name for PSARA, the UK and Eire learning and development body, Seatrade, with more than 30 years of experience organising events and publishing for the shipping industries, the UK Chapter of PATA, Germany, Holland, Jordan and Sandals.
World Travel Market’s Passport Competition for agents, in association with Travel Weekly and Travel Channel and hosted by TV’s X-Factor singer, Ray Quinn, provided a party-style finale on the Thursday afternoon. More than 20 FAM trips and other prizes were given away.