There were no unpleasant surprises at his year’s World Travel Market held in London last month. On the contrary, the tourism fair was again extremely well organized and and a pleasant experience for most. As well, it was a pleasant surprise to see a new, modern pavilion created by the Hellenic Tourism Organization.
The fair’s organizers said that record numbers flooded through WTM doors this year, which signals a new start for world tourism after a number of difficult years. The opening day attendance alone at the ExCeL venue on November 8 was the highest in the fair’s 25-year history.
In the first three days of the world’s leading business-to-business travel and tourism event, there were a total of 42,289 attendees, which is up two per cent over the equivalent period in 2003, from at least 194 countries. Meridian Club members, who are international buyers with purchasing authority, numbered 12,323.
The record attendance is matched by the size of the exhibition, which is the biggest ever. It has increased nearly five per cent on last year with more than 5,000 exhibitors.
Fiona Jeffery, the group exhibition director for World Travel Market, said she was “delighted that we have Greece as our Brand Partner as it anticipates an unprecedented year that will immeasurably raise its global profile as a top destination.”
Representatives from the Hellenic Tourism Organization and Greece’s ministry of tourism development said they would use the opportunity to demonstrate the country’s diverse range of products, but particularly its aim to become a top player in the international meetings industry.
One of the plethora of side events held during the fair included a presentation of the key findings from the World Travel Market Global Travel Report 2004/05, which included statistics that show business travelers more concerned about upgrades than security and that business travel is ready to bounce back. Business travel out of Europe is set to grow next year after a stagnant period in 2004.
Data also showed that global tourism would rise by some 12 percent in 2004, but that airline losses would exceed $4 billion this year. Global tourism is increasing rapidly with worldwide arrivals rising 12 percent to around 526 million in the first eight months of 2004, compared with the same period as last year.