Special Report: WTM 2016 preview

Get a head start on World Travel Market’s programme of seminars and speakers with Katie McGonagle’s guide.

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Where in the world could you shake a tail feather with a Caribbean carnival queen one moment, then try your hand at calling back a swooping Arabian falcon the next?

Where can ministers of tourism and company CEOs rub shoulders with dancers in traditional dress and tourist board mascots kitted out in animal costumes?

At World Travel Market, of course, when the most influential figures from the international travel trade come together at the ExCeL Centre in London’s Docklands area for one of the biggest events in the industry.

This year’s programme has been reduced to three days rather than four, from Monday, November 7, to Wednesday, November 9, with extended opening hours of 10am to 7pm in response to feedback from exhibitors and delegates. That means an even more packed programme of seminars and sessions, so to help get you started with planning your day, we’ve put together a guide to a few of the highlights.


Trends in travel

There’s no such thing as a crystal ball, but the amount of market-leading research presented at WTM is about as close as it gets, with insight from the likes of Phocuswright, Mintel and Euromonitor.

Key events to watch out for include the WTM London Global Trends Report (Tuesday, 3-3.50pm, WTM Inspire Theatre EU475), where the head of travel from Euromonitor will present exclusive research forecasting the latest trends in travel. Plus Brexit – bound to be raised in just about every session this year – will be the focus of Mintel Presents: Impact and Opportunities of Brexit on the UK Travel Market (Wednesday, 2-3pm, Platinum Suite 1), which will focus on inbound travel from emerging markets such as China.Agents with a big gap‑year clientele should also make a beeline for a session led by the National Union of Students, NUS Insight Presents: #FOMOholidays! Driving your UK Student Travel Strategy (Wednesday, 12.30-1.30pm, South Gallery 15-16), looking at how best to advise the 16 to 24-year-old market, worth £3 billion in 2015.

Selling sport

The growth in sports tourism – both watching and playing – is well-documented, so if it’s an area you’re looking to sell more of, the Global Sport Tourism Summit (Monday, 1.30-6pm, Platinum Suite 1) is a must. Registration is required to attend on Monday, but you’ll get the chance to hear about how destinations as diverse as Scotland, Flanders and Barcelona are embracing the sporting market, and how international events can be used to drive wider growth in visitor numbers. That’s followed by the first WTM Global Sports Tourism Awards.


Be responsible

As the Responsible Tourism Awards enter its 10th year at WTM, this theme continues to gather steam. There are several sessions – all at the Responsible Tourism (AF100) stand – dedicated to specific destinations: on Monday, India from 1-2.30pm and Central Asia from 2.45-3.45pm; on Tuesday, The Gambia from 2.45‑3.30pm; and on Wednesday, Uganda from 12.30-1.30pm, and Africa from 1.30-3pm.

For a wider view, the official World Responsible Tourism Day kicks off on Tuesday with speed networking (9‑10am, Hall Entrance S10) and a round-table interview led by BBC business news presenter Aaron Heslehurst, focusing on South Africa (10.50-11.30am, WTM Global Stage AS950).

The scope of issues encompassed by the ‘responsible tourism’ theme proves just how relevant this is for everyone involved in booking travel. There’s the sustainable side, with Climate Change, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Travel & Tourism (Tuesday, 1-1.45pm, Responsible Tourism Stand AF100) and Captivity, Wildlife and Tourism (Wednesday, 10.15-11am, Platinum Suite 1).

Focusing more on the communities involved with and affected by tourism, sessions include Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals (Tuesday, 2-3.15pm, Platinum Suite 3), where Tui Group sustainability director Jane Ashton and Exodus managing director Peter Burrell will be among the experts debating the contribution tourism can make to developing destinations; and How Tourism Can Help the Refugee Crisis (Tuesday, 2.45-3.30pm, AF100).

From the traveller’s perspective, look out for How Can We Ensure Travel and Tourism is Accessible to All? (Tuesday, 3.30-4.30pm, AF100), where Srin Madipalli, chief executive of accessible accommodation site Accomable, will give his take on how this growing sector is about much more than just wheelchair access.

Social service

Social media continues to play a huge part at WTM, with a rich programme of sessions devoted to its role in travel. They include seminars on YouTube and the Continuing Rise of Video (Monday, 2.30-3.30pm, WTM Inspire Theatre EU475), Personalisation for Bloggers and Brands (Tuesday, 12.45-1.45pm, WTM Global Stage AS950) and the Social Media in Tourism Masterclass (Wednesday 12.15-12.45pm, WTM Inspire Theatre EU475) where delegates can pick up a few tips from Visit Philly’s use of social media to promote the state. And if those don’t pique your interest, then the sessions focusing on Facebook and Pokémon Go probably will.


Three of the best high profile sessions

Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, and Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, are the key panellists leading WTM’s Aviation Programme (Monday, 2.45-3.45pm, Global Stage AS950)

Andrew Swaffield of Monarch, Chris Mottershead of Thomas Cook UK & Ireland and Patrick Richards of Cox & Kings will examine Brexit: How will it change UK inbound and outbound travel? (Monday, 3.45‑5pm, WTM Inspire Theatre EU475)

Fritz Joussen of Tui, Mark Tanzer of Abta and David Scowsill of the World Travel & Tourism Council are among a raft of high-profile speakers leading the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit on Tourism and Security (Wednesday 11am-1pm, Global Stage AS950)

Festival Fever

After a successful trial last year, the WTM Festivals are back, offering a chance to network on-stand and enjoy a relaxing end to this year’s event, from 5-7pm on Wednesday. There’ll be tango dancers, wine tasting and Bollywood music, from exhibitors including:

Argentina LA420
Bolivia LA450
Bulgaria EU900
Caribbean CA235
China AS650
Goa IN175
India IN300 & IN350
Philippines AS500

Buyers’ Club in numbers

9,100 members of the WTM Buyers’ Club are due to attend in 2016

£2.5 billion of business is said to be agreed at the Buyers’ Club

865,500 on-stand meetings are due to take place over the course of WTM

9-10am on Monday is the WTM Buyers’ Speed Networking session, outside Entrance S10


Travolution at WTM

Travel Weekly’s technology-focused sister publication Travolution, global media partner for The Travel Tech Show at WTM, is marking its 10th year with a special Travo@10 publication (pictured) to be distributed at WTM.

As a show partner, Travolution has nominated three contenders for one of the World Travel Leaders Awards (Monday, 5-5.30pm, WTM Inspire Theatre EU475). These awards will be given out following a panel debate on Brexit and are a chance to reward innovative companies making an impact on the industry.

Travolution will also be moderating the following two must-attend sessions:

The Travel Agent of the Future (Monday, 1-1.45pm, Travel Tech Theatre TT390)

Travo@10 will join Cardiff-based travel technology firm Comtec/Eysys, independent agent Miles Morgan and The Travel Network Group chief executive Gary Lewis to look at how ‘intelligent’ travel systems will change the role of the traditional travel agent.

Data Wars and the Battle for the Customer (Wednesday, 2.45-3.30pm, Travel Tech Theatre TT390)

Data is often touted as the key resource for any travel firm in targeting the right clientele. This session, moderated by Travolution editor Lee Hayhurst, will see data analysis experts debate how suppliers and agents can best use the resources at their fingertips, as well as looking ahead to how the likes of Google or Facebook may have an impact on the sector.


WTM 2016: Exhibitor stand guide

Get the most out of World Travel Market with Aby Dunsby’s guide to the exhibitor stands.

Dance troupes, celebrity selfies and a serious stack of bagels: it can only be World Travel Market.

For three days, London’s ExCeL Centre will teem with tourist boards, operators and suppliers, all flying the flag for travel and hoping to make a lasting impression on the hordes of visitors that flock here each year.

Even the hardiest of WTM veterans can find the sheer size and pace of the event a little daunting (top tip: you’ll need comfy shoes and a lot of caffeine to keep you going) so here we’ve rounded up the best of what’s happening on exhibitors’ stands, from giveaways and networking events, to some pretty epic food and drink.


Visitors to the Netherlands have plenty to look forward to in the years ahead: 2017 marks 100 years of Dutch design, sparking huge retrospectives and art and design events across the country. Leeuwarden has been named a European Capital of Culture for 2018, with 40 projects planned to celebrate the event, including an art trail.

As well as finding out about the Netherlands’ plans, guests at the Holland (EU500) stand will be able to chow down on some of the country’s finest cheeses paired with premium Heineken beers each afternoon, for a taste of The Heineken Experience attraction in Amsterdam.

Cyprus (EU1300) will be toasting a win for Paphos, named a European Capital of Culture for 2017, and celebrating positive UK arrival figures, which last year increased by 19% to more than one million compared with 2014. The team at the stand will be pouring Cypriot wine from regional boutique wineries and serving traditional savoury dishes.

There’ll be more treats to tempt the taste buds at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts (EU1665), where Spanish tapas and cocktails are the order of the day. In its 60th anniversary year, the company has opened two new hotels: Iberostar Grand Hotel Portals Nous in Majorca and boutique Iberostar 70 Park Avenue opening in Manhattan.

It’s been a big year for Balkan Holidays (EU910) too, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016 with a fam trip to Sunny Beach. Agents can find out details of the operator’s summer 2017 programme to Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, including a new weekly flight from Liverpool and an extra service from Newcastle to Bourgas. Agents can also find out about its new Discovery brochure, which includes lakes and mountains holidays, coach tours, walking tours and golf breaks to eastern Europe.

Selfie-snapping is actively encouraged at the Poland (EU730) stand, which will boast a Wroclaw photo booth in honour of the city’s status as this year’s European Capital of Culture. On Monday, agents can take a picture in the booth then post it on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #WeGoToPoland for a chance to win a prize. Tuesday will take off with a volleyball competition, and the reward for burning some energy comes in the form of Polish food and drink from 5-7pm, plus a chance to win prizes including two fam trip places to Krakow and Lublin.

The Greek National Tourist Office (EU1200) is laying on several events including a Crete networking hour (Monday, 12-1pm), with wine tasting and a cooking demonstration. Tuesday brings more foodie fun from 1.30pm with a ‘Follow the food and wine trail’ featuring sustenance from Crete, the North Aegean islands and northern Greece, followed by a treasure hunt.

If you’ve still got room for more, local liquors and pastries will be served at a Q&A with historian and TV presenter Bettany Hughes about Chios Island (Tuesday, 3-4pm). Wednesday sees more cooking demonstrations from the Aegean islands and Northern Greece from 12-1pm, so make sure you arrive hungry.

The Israel (EU850) stand promises to be another hive of activity, with a juice bar, hummus lunch (Tuesday, 12‑3pm), and wine tasting (4-6pm). To celebrate a 7% increase in UK arrivals, the IGTO will be giving away scratch-cards every day, with prizes ranging from spa products and local wine to city breaks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Creative juices will no doubt be flowing at the stand’s virtual graffiti wall, where visitors can create a masterpiece of their own and download it on to a magnet to take home.

Top tip

Enter a Pegasus Airlines (EU1000) raffle to win flights for any route on its network. The draw is at midday on Wednesday


Caribbean Training Day takes place on Wednesday from 10am on the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CA235) stand, giving agents the chance to meet Caribbean industry partners and gather the latest news and training information. There will also be presentations from the likes of the Bahamas Tourist Office and Sun Group Hotels (register at

Then it’s time to scour around for prizes as part of the annual treasure hunt, with the chance to win complimentary all-inclusive stays at Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain, as well as fam trips and more. The day will end with a rum punch or two and some lively calypso carnival beats at the ever-popular Caribbean Street Party.

Tracy Edwards MBE, famous for skippering the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, will be on the Antigua and Barbuda (CA240) stand on Monday afternoon to talk about sailing in Antigua and the 50th anniversary of Antigua Sailing Week in 2017. Throughout WTM, agents are invited to spin the Antigua and Barbuda Beach Big Wheel for a chance to win Antiguan spot prizes. The tourist board team will also be discussing the destination’s latest news, including hotel developments such as Robert De Niro’s highly anticipated Paradise Found project on Barbuda and the recent designation of the historic Nelson’s Dockyard as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

In 2017, adventure island Dominica (CA235) will launch a new concept for honeymooners looking for a more exciting start to their married life, which agents can find out about at the stand.

The Dominican Republic (CA300) will be holding an on‑stand competition for two agents to win a place on one of its 2017 fam trips. Agents need only drop by, leave their business card and answer a simple question about the destination for a chance to win.

Trinidad and Tobago (CA250) will be celebrating a new focus this year, encapsulated in the tagline “Retained from the past – preserved for the future”. Its stand will be a clamour of colour, featuring dancers in traditional costume, music from panyard steel drum performers and parang (folk music) singers, plus plenty of rum. There will also be a food demonstration from the owners of Trinidad’s Lopinot Village Community, inviting guests to sample traditional dishes and chocolate (Monday and Tuesday, 5-6pm).

On Wednesday, as part of the Caribbean street party, agents will be able to try on the colourful carnival costumes and grab a selfie or two with the performers. Those who visit Elite Island Resorts on the CTO (CA235) stand will learn about the brand’s launch of free wellbeing options across its resorts, including Floatfit Caribbean Aquabase, a high‑intensity training class on the water; Colour Me Calm Club, a colouring mindfulness club; and Smart Sun Clinic with Ultrasun, which encourages safe sun habits on holiday. Agents who get to the stand in time will also get the chance to nab themselves a sunscreen sample by answering the question: “What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays, and why do we need to protect from both?” There’s also the opportunity to win a seven-night stay at one of the resorts by answering a few questions.


Latin America

The Latin America stands are abuzz with activity this year, with plenty of opportunities for agents to network, learn about new product, and sample some delicious food and drink and Latin culture in the process.

Peru (LA300) is famed for ceviche and cocktails, and to honour these culinary innovations, the stand will be fashioned to look like a restaurant, serving a variety of local dishes, as well as giving visitors the chance to learn about Peru’s various destinations.

Pisco Sour Hour will take place daily from 12-1pm, and again on Monday and Wednesday from 5.30-6.30pm, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy a taste of Peru with cocktails and canapés. PromPeru will also be showcasing some of Peru’s most iconic attractions, including Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, using virtual reality technology at the stand daily between 12.30-1.30pm and again from 4-6pm.

Events at the Chile (LA500) stand revolve around embracing the country’s delicious cuisine, with Chilean wine tasting on Tuesday and Wednesday at 1pm, followed by a cooking workshop from 3-4pm on both days. After sampling the fruits of their labour, it’s time for guests to knuckle down for a Calafate Sour cocktail workshop from 4-5pm both days. Sounds tough…

Africa and Indian Ocean

Africa’s presence at WTM keeps growing and this year is no exception, with emerging destinations such as Senegal alongside established hotspots such as Egypt and Morocco.

New exhibitors include Sudan’s Ministry of Tourism and Go Zambia, a consortium of tour operators and accommodation providers in Zambia, who will appear in the Africa area alongside tourists boards from South Africa, Ghana, The Gambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius and St Helena.

More than 30 suppliers will be exhibiting on the Tanzania Tourism Board (AF450) stand, ranging from coastal hotels to upmarket safari lodges.

Tourism boards from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are taking individual stands but working together to create an area devoted to East Africa.

Kenya in particular is looking forward to a busy three days, building on the success of the Born Free Foundation’s Year of the Lion, which highlighted the plight of lions in the wild to mark the 50th anniversary of the classic film.

The Kenya Tourism Board will be giving away 50 lion toy prizes a day to the first 50 people who tweet about Kenya using #KenyaWTM. Entrants should then head to the Kenya stand (AF300) to show a staff member their tweet, bag their lion toy, and be entered into a prize draw to win two tickets to see The Lion King in the West End. The stand will have its own photo booth, so visitors can picture themselves on safari in the Masai Mara or relaxing on Diani beach, and forget that it’s chilly outside.

The Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (AS130) will be saying ‘cheers’ to a great year and a 12% increase in UK visitor numbers in 2015 with a drinks reception (Monday, 4.30-6pm). Drinks and canapés drawing on the island’s Creole influences will be served.

The Egyptian Tourism Authority (AF500) will also be relaunching its Red Sea Riviera logo in an effort to extend the winter sun-focused brand across other resorts.

US & Canada

Sci-fi fans should head to the Brand USA (NA250D-1) stand, where they can don virtual reality goggles and experience the beauty of the national parks by watching the much-lauded documentary America Wild: National Parks Adventure, narrated by Robert Redford.

The Brand USA 2017 MegaFam is set to be even bigger, with 107 attending next year, and details of the itinerary, destinations and how to win a place will be revealed at the stand.

Technology is also a focus for Las Vegas (NA450), which will be unveiling the city’s new, state-of-the-art ‘Vegas Interactive’ on Monday at 10am for the first time outside the US. The interactive 3-D video wall will allow users to access detailed information about hotel and event spaces via touchscreen technology, and watch 360-degree videos, time-lapse photography and use interactive maps to watch Sin City come to life.

The Las Vegas sign giveaway is also back by popular demand this year, so expect a stampede at 3pm on Wednesday.


If you’re feeling peckish after all that running around, plod over to the Utah (NA150C) stand, which is offering visitors an energy boost in the form of a ‘Trail Mix’ bar to promote the state’s popularity as a hotspot for adventure. Clients can make their own using nuts, seeds or dried fruits (Tuesday, 5-6pm).

Neighbouring Colorado (NA150C) is also pushing a love of the great outdoors as well as the centenary of the National Park Service by giving away five Osprey rucksacks and five cases of Colorado beer. News from the state includes the creation of a Historic Hot Springs loop combining 19 springs into a self‑drive itinerary, and a new train service from Denver to Winter Park, providing a direct link to the ski slopes.

Over at the Great Lakes (NA140) stand, agents shouldn’t miss the 2017 Visitor Guide Launch at 3pm on Tuesday, where they’ll be able to meet representatives from Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Guess the value of the Michigan-made Ford F150 truck and you could win one of two places on a Great Lakes fam trip.

Illinois will also be offering visitors a chance to win a tour of the Land of Lincoln as part of a fam trip which will see agents cruising along Route 66, visiting the Lincoln Museum in Springfield and spending an evening on the Navy Pier in Chicago. The places will go to the two who share the best selfies from the American Airlines and Enjoy Illinois Stand, using the hashtag #IllinoisWTM. Silly poses at the ready…

The Port of Seattle (NA150A) is exhibiting for the first time this year and will be revealing its new Washington State International Guide to help agents get to know the destination. The port is also launching a UK website aimed at providing a gateway to Seattle and Washington. Agents can quench their thirst with some Washington wines as part of the Brand USA reception on Tuesday from 4pm.

You’re only 150 once, and Canada has big plans for its anniversary in 2017, including a year of free entry to its national parks for visitors. In honour of its big birthday, Destination Canada (NA400) is inviting visitors to try the Montreal bagel, which unlike the New York bagel is boiled and then baked. The team will be dishing out 150 smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels (Monday and Tuesday morning). After tucking in, visitors will also be able to find out about Canada’s training programmes, incentives and openings for next year.

Middle East

Fancy yourself as the next Lewis Hamilton? The Bahrain (ME700) stand is inviting visitors to satisfy their need for speed by having a go on an F1 simulator, to promote the annual grand prix at the Bahrain International Circuit. Visitors can enter a competition to win a luxury holiday to Bahrain, including free Formula

One tickets. There’ll also be a traditional Galali band performing, so visitors can enjoy the music and pose for photos with people in traditional Bahraini dress.

Visit the Abu Dhabi (ME300) stand and you could have your picture taken with a falcon, the national bird of the UAE, and meet the 35-plus stand partners from various hotels and attractions. As well as getting to sample dates and Arabic coffee, agents can be decorated in henna and enter competitions to win a wealth of prizes.

At the stand’s ‘digital corner’, visitors will be able to create their own vision of Abu Dhabi using an interactive ‘surface table’, explore the section on Yas Island, and get a sneak peek of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2017.

Dubai’s (ME200) stand activity will include calligraphy classes, henna-painting and a Gahwa cafe serving traditional treats. Agents can sign up to the Dubai Expert training programme on Tuesday and Wednesday, with participants receiving a goodie bag and a £20 shopping voucher. To sign up for the sessions, email

Meanwhile, feast on pitta bread and spice-laden Jordanian delicacies while speaking to local experts about the splendour and mystery of Jordan at the Jordan (ME140 and ME185) stands, which are set to be transformed into a mini pop-up souk for the duration of WTM.

Asia & Australia

Headline sponsor India will be kicking off all the WTM action on Monday at 8.30am with an explosively colourful opening ceremony at the main entrance. Tuesday promises to be equally lively, when the India (IN300 and IN350) stands will serve up food, drink, music and warm hospitality for its Happy Hour from 5-7pm.

The grand finale, taking place on Wednesday between 5-7pm, will be the ‘Vibrant India’ festival, showcasing India’s cultural flair with an evening of music, dance and traditional cuisine. Actress Miriam Margolyes, star of TV series The Real Marigold Hotel, will also be at the festival to meet guests and share stories from her time in India, and pose for some obligatory selfies too.

Mayalsia’s (AS400) stand opening on Monday at 10am will also get the party started thanks to a performance from a 40-strong Malaysian dance troupe, and live music aplenty. That evening at 5pm there’ll be more cause for celebration with a cocktail reception at the stand, plus traditional gourmet delicacies to sample and more live music and dancing.

Taiwan’s (AS455) impossibly cute ambassador Oh! Bear will be at the destination’s stand for cuddles and photo opps on Monday, and from 4-6pm guests are invited for Happy Hour to sample Taiwanese beer, traditional nibbles and speciality cakes, while meeting local experts to chat about what makes Taiwan so special. Megan Eaves, north Asia editor for Lonely Planet, will also explain why Taitung and Taipei were selected for the publisher’s ‘Best in Asia’ list this year and will share her Taiwan travel tips. On Wednesday at 10.15am, agents can attend a workshop alongside operators and product managers to learn more about the destination.

Expect the royal treatment at the Thai Airways (AS445) stand, where Her Royal Princess Ubolratana Mahidol, a member of the Thai royal family, will be there on Monday at 3.30pm. As well as catching a glimpse of a princess, visitors to the stand can leave their business card to be in with a chance of winning a return economy ticket to Thailand in a prize draw (Tuesday, 4pm) to celebrate the reintroduction of Thai Airways’ double-daily service from London to Bangkok.

Tourism Australia (AS350) is winging its way from down under with a roster of 15 partners on hand to talk through news, new product and training. Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan will be announcing the details of Corroboree West 2017, and plans for activity surrounding the ‘one year out’ campaign for the 2017-18 Ashes. On Monday evening, the stand will be serving an array of tipples too.

South Australia will also be on the stand to share news of new tours, including a Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail and the opening of D’Arenberg Cube, an impressive, artistic building set in the Mourvèdre vineyards, which boasts a tasting room, several bars and two restaurants.

At the Tourism New Zealand (AS460) stand, agents can meet regional manager Pip Casey and enjoy a drink on Monday evening for Happy Hour between 5pm and 6pm.


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