WORLD Travel Market is gearing up to celebrate its
silver anniversary with the biggest exhibition in the show’s
25th history.

Organisers expect 5,000 exhibitors to attend to show, which
takes place at ExCeL from November 8-11. In total, 194 countries
will be represented, with Uzbekistan, Gabon, Mali and Lesotho
having a presence for the first time.

Bermuda will have its own stand at the show after a seven-year
absence, while Libya and Nigeria have also returned.

Official figures reveal a record WTM this year, with the space
taken by exhibitors up 4.6% on 2003.

The Middle East region represents the biggest expansion at the
show with more exhibition space and support by a number of airline
exhibitors including Qatar Airways, Emirates and Saudi Arabian

The overall exhibition area for Europe has increased by 1,000 sq
ft, while Asia is also making a healthy return to the show, with 6%
more suppliers present compared with 2003.

Group exhibition director Fiona Jeffery said the response was
better than expected, given three difficult years for the travel
industry, which saw the SARS epidemic, terrorism and economic
problems all take their toll.

“If you put the exhibitor figures against the current difficult
economic climate, it’s a better result than I would have
expected,” she said.

“The market is improving and business is picking up. The
industry is feeling positive and exhibitors and delegates are using
WTM to build on the increase in business,” she added.

Guest of honour at the show will be Olympic gold medallist
Sebastian Coe, who will officially open WTM

Now Lord Coe, he took gold in the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980
– the year WTM was launched. He is currently in charge of
London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

To mark the show’s silver anniversary, Coe will present
Silver Awards to individuals and companies who have made a
significant achievement in the development of tourism.

There will also be a video screening of the biggest  news events
of the past 25 years.

The opening ceremony will kick off with a parade of flags from
all of WTM’s participating countries and regions by young
performing arts students from The Performers College, Corringham,

Your passport to big

HOW would you like to drive home in a new Ford Fiesta –
and meet TV celebrity and Big Brother winner Brian Dowling?

You could be doing just that if you take part in Travel
Weekly’s biggest-ever Passport Competition at this
year’s World Travel Market.

In conjunction with Hertz and the Travel Channel, there is the
chance for agents to win one of these two prize cars, as well as
one of 20 holidays and a place on some amazing fam trips.

Winning couldn’t be easier – all you have to do is
collect your Passport from one of the Travel Weekly booths in the
main boulevard on arrival at WTM on Wednesday, November 10 or
Thursday, November 11. Then visit all the destinations listed in
your Passport, get it stamped by those participating exhibitors,
and return it to one of the Travel Weekly booths by 2.45pm. Make
sure you are at WTM’s World Stage at 3pm on either on
Wednesday or Thursday for the announcement of the winners and the
presentation of prizes. Sandals will be providing the sundowner

Brian Dowling, of Big Brother fame and former host of SMTV, will
be there to award the prizes. Afterwards, there will be the chance
to practise your limbo dancing skills to Caribbean music.

If you don’t win one of the cars there are plenty more
prizes to be had, including a seven-night all-inclusive holiday in
Barbados at Almond Beach Village or Almond Beach Club and Spa; two
return tickets on Cyprus Airways; a week for two in Jordan,
courtesy of the Jordan Tourism Board; and two nights for two in a
Small Luxury Hotel of the World property. Get stamping.