Expo 2020 preparation drives Middle East participation at WTM 2016

Expo 2020 preparation drives Middle East participation at WTM 2016

Inspired by the positive regional potential of Expo 2020 and despite low oil revenues, increased numbers of travel professionals from across the Middle East, participated in this year’s World Travel Market in London.

This helped the leading international travel trade to record a joint-record attendance of 51,500 and the highest number of exhibitor invitees and buyers in the 37-year history of the event.

There were a number of new exhibitors from the Middle East this year, including Saudia, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia and travel organization Alraqi from the Sultanate of Oman.

Other key exhibitors included the tourism boards and associated partners from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kingdom of Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran Doostan, Kuwait Airways and Oman Air. 

Overall, the number of Middle East exhibitors showed a steady growth of 2.26 per cent compared to 2015 as regional governments look to diversify their economies away from falling hydrocarbon receipts.

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Those from the UAE occupied the lion’s share of floor space devoted to the region, which was to be expected with Expo 2020 Dubai on the horizon, but the indirect boost to regional travel and destinations, was not being underestimated, by other regional tourism boards. 

Total visitor numbers (excluding press, ministers, ministers’ aides and students) for WTM London 2016 stood at 31,951 – a five per cent increase on WTM London 2015.

More than 865,500 on-stand connections took place over the three days of WTM London 2016 leading to more than £2.5 billion in industry deals being negotiated and signed.

World Travel Market London senior director, Simon Press, said: “WTM London has grown at an unprecedented rate in recent years making it the event where the industry conducts its business.

“More than £2.5 billion in industry contracts were agreed at WTM London 2016 with more than 9,700 buyers conducting 865,500 meetings with 5,000 exhibitors.

“The record number of participants, exhibitor invitees and WTM Buyers’ Club members is testament to the success of the new-look three-day WTM London and demonstrates all the key decision-makers and those with purchasing responsibility attend WTM London.”