National tourism ministers, suppliers and delegates struggled to reach Excel yesterday as London’s transport system ground to a halt.


Exhibitors and delegates driving to the first day of World Travel Market saw their journey times double as traffic snarled up, while those taking the Dockland Light Railway were forced off trains at Canning Town station at around 9.30am due to a signal failure.


Those trying to reach the Excel exhibition centre were advised to use a bus replacement service, although many were still waiting for buses half an hour later when the trains resumed running.


Jordan’s minister of tourism and antiquities Maha Khatib was among those to miss her first appointment after a black cab took an hour and 45 minutes to reach WTM from the centre of London.


Turkey culture and tourism minister Ertugrul Gunay was 25 minutes late for an 11am press conference due to traffic and fears congestion could be a major issue for the London 2012 Olympics in nearby Stratford.


He added: “It is obvious traffic will pose a problem. I thought Istanbul was bad enough but having come to London I see the problem isn’t any different here.”


However, VisitBritain chief executive Tom Wright said today’s problems were mainly down to bad luck. By the time the Olympics start, there will be around 13 transport links to the site, using road, rail, high-speed rail and the underground, he said.


He added: “I think most readers will know that London transport moves a huge volume of people each day. Inevitably there are going to be hiccups. It’s unfortunate it’s happened on the first morning of WTM.”