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WTM 2014: Mega-events and Wellness Take Center Stage

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai addressing the UNWTO & WTM Ministers' Summit.

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai addressing the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit.

The UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit set the tone for the second day of World Travel Market 2014, with tourism ministers from around the world discussing the synergies between mega-events and tourism.

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai and Greek National Tourism Organization General Secretary Panos Livadas at the  UNWTO & WTM Ministers' Summit on second day of WTM 2014.

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai and Greek National Tourism Organization General Secretary Panos Livadas at the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit on second day of WTM 2014.

The key message is that the legacy benefits should always be front of mind when destinations are considering whether to host such events.

The UNWTO defined the legacy benefits in five ways: building national unity and pride through community involvement; improving the capacity to attract private investment; forming a better prepared workforce; achieving a strong positioning or reposition of the brand of the host destination(s); and transforming a tourism destination.

One such mega-event is the Rugby World Cup, which will take place in England next year. In a session entitled Rugby World Cup – the Potential for Sports Tourism, Brett Gosper, CEO of the International Rugby Board, said some 460,000 rugby fans from around the world will visit England next year. The event will also provide economic benefits of £2.5 billion for the UK.

The session, moderated by Keith Wood, former British and Irish Lion and captain of Ireland, revealed sports tourism is the fastest-growing tourism sector, tipped to grow by 14 percent next year, while tourism as a whole is predicted to grow by 2-4 percent.

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Wellness is another tourism sector which is tipped for growth.

“It has been growing organically at 12 percent without the huge travel industry getting behind it,” said Spafinder Wellness 365 Managing Director John Bevan.

During the WTM panel discussion What Exactly is Wellness Tourism? Brighter PR Chairman Steve Dunne said: “I think, from a travel sector point of view, if we can get the consumer bought into this, this is going to be the new cruise industry“.


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