Thousands of travel industry professionals from more than 140 countries are preparing to visit WTM London (November 1-3) for the largest industry gathering since the pandemic began.
The continuing relaxation of travel rules in the UK and overseas in recent weeks has prompted a surge in exhibitor bookings and buyer registrations because travel to England is now easier.
For those who cannot attend in person, WTM & TF (Travel Forward) Virtual will take place online on November 8-9, offering further opportunities for networking and business deals.
Event organizers have confirmed exhibitors from more than 100 countries signed in, while representatives from more than 141 countries and regions have signed up to WTM London’s Buyers’ Club.
These stand bookings demonstrate how many countries see the UK as an important source market in their recovery roadmap – and that WTM London is perfectly timed for 2022 inventory, a statement from the organizers said. The event will also host tourism ministers from across the globe, industry experts, keynote speakers among others.
Alongside the face-to-face networking opportunities, WTM London will feature sessions with insights and research about how the sector can recover from the pandemic and reflect the event’s theme: Reconnect. Rebuild. Innovate.
The show will start with the presentation of the annual WTM Industry Report, which sets out the trends that exhibitors and buyers need to know.
The session will be moderated by Simon Calder, Britain’s leading travel commentator, with input from Harold Goodwin, WTM’s Responsible Tourism Advisor; aviation expert John Strickland, Director of JLS Consulting; and Tracy Halliwell, Director of Tourism and Convention Bureau at London & Partners.
WTM London will also host the Travel Forward conference (November 1-3), which focuses on the technology driving the industry’s recovery, and International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC) which will hold the ‘Invest Finance Restart’ investment summit (November 1-2), bringing together investors, thought leaders, destinations and entrepreneurs.
Investment will also be the theme of the annual UNWTO, WTTC and WTM Ministers’ Summit (November 2) which provides a practical platform for tourism leaders of the public and private sectors to share best practices and explore investment opportunities.
The summit will welcome more than 30 tourism ministers, including the speakers: UK MP Nigel Huddleston, Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Dr Khaled El-Enany, Greece Tourism Minister Vasilis Kikilias, Italy Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques, Philippines Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Fátima Romulo-Puyat, Sierra Leone Minister of Tourism and Culture Memunatu Pratt, Radisson Hotel Group CEO Federico González, CEO of SITA at Airports & Borders David Lavorel, among others.
UK Minister Huddleston said: “It’s been a challenging period for the travel and tourism sectors, but the huge international attendance at the World Travel Market is testament to the resilience and hard work of those in the industry.
“This landmark event in the travel sector calendar is once again offering brilliant opportunities to reconnect, innovate and build back better for the future.”
‘Investing in Tourism’s Sustainable Future’ is the theme of the summit, especially as WTM London will be taking place while world leaders are in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Furthermore, WTM’s responsible tourism programme – a fixture for many years – will debate travel and tourism’s role in the climate crisis. Exhibitors and buyers can get their face-to-face deal-making off to a great start with the Speed Networking sessions – five-minute mini-meetings that help forge new business relationships.
New for 2021 to help networking is the Smart Event tool, a contactless lead capture app that enables exhibitors to scan delegates’ badges to gather contact information and acts as a digital business card.
WTM London Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “We are excited to be reconnecting with our travel and tourism colleagues from around the world as the sector rebuilds and innovates. It has been heartening to see the surge in exhibitor confirmations and visitor registrations over the past few weeks as the easing of restrictions has given more delegates confidence to travel.
“There is substantial pent-up demand for travel in 2022, so it’s crucial to gain a competitive advantage by doing business, networking and learning about key trends and best practice. WTM London will be the largest gathering of travel industry professionals in the world since the pandemic began so it will be the perfect platform for recovery in 2022.”
WTM London takes place from November 1-3 at ExCeL, London, and will be followed by WTM Virtual on November 8-9.