WTM opening day reveals cautious optimism of travel industry

WTM opening day reveals cautious optimism of travel industry

The first day of World Travel Market – the premier global event for the travel industry – has revealed continuing concern about the impact of the economy on tourism. But there is also cause for optimism, with a major aviation deal being unveiled and predictions for further recovery in the holiday market.

Saudi Arabiahas ordered eight Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 12 777-300 ERs with an option on another ten 777s.

Jeff Cacy, Managing Director of Global Airline Marketing Services at Boeing, revealed the lucrative deal at WTM today (Monday 8 November).

The deal is estimated to be worth about £3.3bn for the 777s but the price for the Dreamliners has not been revealed.

Cacy claimed that the aircraft’s introduction in Q1 2011 would be as exciting as the advent of the jet age in the 1950s.

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However, the inaugural World Travel Market Industry Report revealed caution among top executives, as it had polled 1,257 tourist board and private sector bosses, and senior buyers.

The survey found the industry fears it will struggle to return to pre-downturn demand levels and profitability until 2016.

Four out of ten executives see increased taxation as one of the biggest issues facing the industry over the next five years.

However, WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery said financial experts are offering a glimmer of hope with predictions that consumers, especially in Europe, will continue to spend on tourism and leisure helping to boost general recovery.

The WTM report also surveyed 1,000 consumers for their views and founda third of UK holidaymakers used social media when planning this summer’s break, but the majority of those who did were likely to change their holiday choices as a result.

The importance of sports tournaments for destinations was also debated today, with the European Tour Operators Association sounding a note of caution.

Tom Jenkins, Executive Director, warned that two-thirds of tourism buyers expect a drop in business for London in 2012 because of the Olympics.

However, VisitBritain’s Head of 2012 Games Unit, Chris Foy, said the national tourism organisation had been learning lessons from other tourism bodies in host nations, such as Canada, where half of the Vancouver marketing budget was used after the games “to close the deal”.

The WTM Global Trends Report was unveiled today, showing how Iraq is poised to be a future tourism hotspot.

Produced in association with Euromonitor International, the report shows Iraqi tourism is growing fast with increased airline and hotel capacity following the country’s successful attendance at WTM 2009 – its first visit to a travel and tourism trade event for 10 years.

The report also predicted that some of the United Kingdom’s most high-profile travel and tourism brands could be purchased by wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen.

Euromonitor International Head of Global Travel and Tourism Research Caroline Bremner said: “The UK is ripe for investment from the Middle East with attractive property prices and the value of the pound. We anticipate visitors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to the UK to increase significantly in the next four years.”

TUI’s new UK & Ireland Managing Director Johan Lundgren said he was cautious in his outlook for 2011 but highlighted how sales of exclusive holidays were soaring ahead.

Bookings for Thomson and First Choice holidays are 5% up year-on-year for 2011 but those for differentiated products are 17% ahead, he told the Captains of Industry lunch.