The travel exhibition industry will soon be speaking with a stronger voice as ETTFA – the European Tourism Trade Fairs Association – goes global.
Arabian Travel Market in Dubai is the first show outside Europe to join the association, and the name International Tourism Trade Fairs Association (ITTFA) will be adopted at its annual general meeting during ATM in Dubai from May 3-5.
ATM will become the 17th member of the association, which already covers most of the major travel exhibitions in Europe. Several shows in Asia are expected to join over the next 12-18 months, and the long-term plan is to take part in shows in North America and Latin America.
ETTFA and Reed Travel Exhibitions chairman Tom Nutley says that expansion is driven by demand, and a recognition that ETTFA has achieved considerable recognition since it was formed 12 years ago.
“Members agree that we should move into a worldwide mode and Arabian Travel Market will bring a Middle East perspective to our activities,” he says. “Expansion will give us a wider understanding of trends around the world, and I expect a further three or four exhibitions, mainly in Asia, to join us shortly.
“We already have a strong relationship with the World Tourism Organization, but this will put us on equal footing with the WTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council, and other global bodies.”
Mr. Nutley expects membership of ITTFA to settle at around 25 exhibitions, but could be up to 30.
“Previously we have been restricted to the major event in each country, but we recognize that there are some highly professional niche events which have not been allowed to join,” he explains.
“But if an existing member recommends one of these events and endorses its professionalism, we will consider its membership.
“When a show belongs to our organization, we guarantee that it is a professionally run event with a trade focus, with audited attendance figures. That is important at a time when the total number of travel exhibitions is growing, but some events come and go as in any industry.”
He said ITTFA will speak with one voice to governments and other bodies, to stress the vital importance of the travel and tourism industry and the role played by exhibitions within that.
Exhibitions may differ widely in how they approach their markets, but ETTFA and now ITTFA can help by bringing a common approach to major issues, said Mr. Nutley.
An example is northern Cyprus, with members agreeing for the Turkish-controlled zone to exhibit as a region while recognizing that the Greek-controlled state is the legal entity covering the whole island.
With more members joining, ITTFA says it will develop its website, secretariat activities and other communication tools.