Take a virtual tour of World Travel Market with Katie McGonagle’s look at what to expect on the stands
There aren’t many places – even in cosmopolitan London – where you’ll find international sports stars and famous actors rubbing elbows with top-class chefs, Las Vegas showgirls and sequin-clad carnival dancers, all without anyone batting an eye.But these are just a handful of the exciting guests set to grace the ExCeL Centre in London’s Docklands next week for World Travel Market.
This global event sees tourist boards, airlines, cruise companies, hoteliers, theme parks and anyone else with an interest in the travel trade descend on the east London venue for four days of non-stop meetings and events.
With the array of exotic food, drink and activities at the stands, delegates could easily spend four days eating and drinking their way around the world, experiencing a few local traditions and revelling in the multi-cultural melting pot that is the travel industry.
With so much on offer and so little time to explore, the choice can be overwhelming, so here’s our guide to what’s happening on the stands.
There will be plenty to talk about in the UK and Ireland sector. While VisitEngland (UKI100) talks up the home side’s chances in next year’s Rugby World Cup and VisitScotland (UKI300) kicks off its Year of Food and Drink 2015, their Welsh cousins in Visit Cardiff (UKI100) will be in the midst of celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay with arts events.
On the Channel Islands stand (UKI540), Visit Guernsey will be focusing on its Second World War heritage of Nazi bunkers, underground hospitals and tunnels left over from the island’s German occupation, with next year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the conflict. A roaming travel agent team will also be there on Wednesday, November 5, asking agents a few questions about their perceptions of the destination, followed by a drink at the stand between 3pm and 5pm, where there’s also a chance to win a holiday for two to Guernsey and Jersey.
Among the many other UK exhibitors, Best Western Hotels GB (UKI220) will be launching its media portal and promoting its fun guide to the group’s 110 dog-friendly properties – a must for agents with animal-loving clients to keep happy.
Local delicacies, arts and crafts, and a few fun games are in store for agents working their way around the Europe stands.Visit Portugal (EM1010) will be bringing its gourmet pop-up event Taste Portugal London to the Excel Centre, with chefs Vasco Lello, Rui Paula and Henrique Sa Pessoa whipping up a few tasty morsels in cooking demonstrations from 3pm-4pm on Monday and Tuesday.
The Emilia Romagna Region Tourist Board (EM2080) will likewise be showcasing its local produce, with everything from Parma ham and Parmesan cheese to balsamic vinegar and regional wine Lambrusco – a very different tipple from its UK namesake.
Meanwhile the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EM1200) wants to talk to agents over daily Greek breakfasts from 10.30-11.30am plus lunch on Wednesday and Thursday. If you’re interested in attending, email email@example.com beforehand stating which regions or types of Greek holiday you’re interested in.
Neighbouring Cyprus Tourism Organisation (EM1300) is also inviting agents to sample some flavours from the island during its Taste of Cyprus event on Wednesday from 6pm-8pm, which will showcase Cypriot delicacies and wines provided by Primrose Hill restaurant Lemonia, all with the accompaniment of live bouzouki music.
While Maltesers aren’t exactly produced in Malta, they do share a common name, which is why they’ll be front and centre for Belleair Holidays (EM1350), promoting its Malta-teaser campaign with a glass of bubbly and a chance to win a luxury holiday to Malta along with a host of other prizes.
On the Austrian National Tourist Office stand, SalzburgerLand Tourist Board (EM600) will also be giving away a weekend for two to the city to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music – visit the stand and drop off a business card. Just over the border in Germany, the SouthWest Germany Tourist Board (EM740) will be starting a raffle for a fam trip place to the southwest state, open to agents who have completed its new Cuckoo training course by November 30.
Event sponsor VisitFlanders (EM14-18) will not only be giving out brochures on its new cycling routes, Great War Trade Brochure and chocolate and beer experiences, but it’ll give agents a chance to sample the goods themselves with an after-hours party from 6pm-8pm on Wednesday, featuring Belgian beer, fries and ice cream with music from a Flanders DJ – register with firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation.
There will be vodka cocktails and a Polish buffet over with the Polish National Tourist Office (EM650) at the same time, and throughout the show a pitch and putt golf simulator for agents to improve their putting skills with a chance to win a golf putter each day at 4pm, or golf balls for the runners-up.
Brunch is clearly the meal of the day for the Lithuania State Department of Tourism (EM985), serving apple cheese, Lithuanian tree cake and non-alcoholic drink gira from 11am-1pm on Wednesday; while the Danes – who are exhibiting at WTM for the first time in five years – will be showing off their love of liquorice with flavoured cocktails on the VisitDenmark stand (EM620).
There will also be a chance to take a selfie with the Little Mermaid, while over at Promote Iceland (EM540a), traditional Christmas characters the Yule Lads – namely the Sausage Swiper and Spoonlicker – will be on hand for a photo, along with a drinks reception from 3pm on Tuesday.
Agents popping along to the Brand USA (NA530J) stand will be encouraged to sign up for its USA Discovery Program, which recently added a Luxury Specialist badge, and meet Travel Weekly’s own American Idol, Lauren Greenway from Carrick Travel, to hear how training has helped her US sales.
If that weren’t enough enticement, those who sign up will be entered into a draw to win one of two pairs of tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys go up against the Jacksonville Jaguars in an NFL game at Wembley Stadium on November 9.
Not only that, but there will be A Taste of the USA networking event on Tuesday from 5pm-6.30pm to showcase some of the states’ most iconic foods.
Training is also on the agenda for Visit California (NA240), which will be inviting agents who sign up for its California Expert course at the show to enter a draw for prizes inspired by its Dream Big campaign. Introduced at last year’s WTM, the campaign has now spawned a consumer website with more video content and a new interactive platform, Dream 365, set to be rolled out in spring.
It’s party time at other US stands, with cocktail hours at the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (NA350P) from 5pm-6pm on Monday and Tuesday, promoting multi-centre breaks with North Carolina and Georgia.
Meanwhile Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (NA250) will be trying to outdo last year’s appearance of Joey Essex with a VIP Silent Disco starting at 11am on Monday; and Choose Chicago (NA350J) is bringing a supply of the city’s famous Garrett’s Popcorn to keep visitors entertained while they hear about new attractions including the George Lucas Museum and renovation of the Navy Pier.
North of the border, the Canadian Tourism Commission (NA200) will be marking 50 years since the introduction of its iconic maple leaf flag – which replaced the Union Jack-based Red Ensign flown in Canada until 1965 – with a competition asking agents to come and ‘flag up’ their favourite reasons for people to visit Canada in 2015. They can draw or write their suggestions on bunting at the stand, and the top 10 flags will win one of 10 Amazon vouchers worth £50.
News from North America
NYC & Company (NA200) will be talking to agents about its increase in hotel rooms – set to reach 100,000 with new openings this year – and attractions including the final section of the High Line, which opened in September, and the forthcoming One World Observatory and Whitney Museum art gallery both opening next spring. Big Bus Tours has also entered New York for the first time with a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour. nycgo.com
Universal Orlando Resort (NA440) will be filling agents in on the opening of Diagon Alley and plans for Caribbean-themed hotel Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, set to open in summer 2016. The park operator is currently looking at increasing the range of product agents can sell and improving training with more fam trips for 2015. universalorlando.co.uk
Travel Alberta (NA200) will be going dinosaur-crazy with the opening next September of a museum named after the Canadian palaeontologist who inspired Jurassic Park’s central character. Set in dinosaur fossil hotspot Pipestone Creek, The Philip J Currie Museum has already attracted interest from Ghostbusters actor Dan Akroyd who has helped with fundraising and dinosaur digs. travelalberta.co.uk
There is no shortage of excitement in this sector. Six out of seven of the United Arab Emirates will exhibit this year, with the addition of Ajman (ME260) for the first time, and Ras Al Khaimah (ME450) returning for its second year.
Dubai Tourism (ME200) will be promoting its family product and new Dubai Food Festival with a ‘Dubai Foodscape’ being built on-stand, plus a friendly falcon for photo opportunities. Neighbouring Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (ME300) will also be paying tribute to tradition with an on-stand falcon and henna tattoos, complemented by a 3D game taking guests around the modern-day desert city.
Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (ME400) will be trying to boost its profile among agents with a chance to win one of two places on a fam trip to Sharjah’s Festival of Light in February. The emirate is expecting 30 new hotels by the end of 2017, bringing its capacity up to 14,000 rooms, including international brands such as Sheraton, Four Points and Novotel.
Take a selfie in Qatar Airways’ first-class seat (ME100) to celebrate the new A380 flying its London-Doha route, and be in with a chance to win a mini break.
Oman Ministry of Tourism (ME500), meanwhile, will be holding a draw to win an iPad Mini for agents who visit the stand to hear about new terminals at Muscat and Salalah airports and the national railway company’s plans to improve transport within the country too.
Caribbean and Latin America
The Caribbean stands are making the most of their tastiest assets – namely their plentiful supplies of rum and chocolate – with plenty of incentives to draw agents along.
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (CA200) will be celebrating its rebrand from a tourism authority with a special appearance from England cricket player Chris Jordan, who boasts Bajan heritage, along with a rum punch party and fishcakes made the Barbados way, from 3pm on Monday.
It’s happy hour over at Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority (CA260) from 4pm-5pm on Monday and Tuesday, while the Dominican Republic Tourist Board (CA300) is also inviting agents to toast the new non-stop British Airways flight to Punta Cana with a drink and a chance to win a spot on a fam trip next year; visit the stand from 2.30pm-3.30pm on Monday and Tuesday.
That’s not the only transatlantic trip up for grabs: agents who register and complete the Bahamas Tourist Office (CA250) training course will be entered into a draw for a place on a 2015 fam; while Elite Island Resorts (CA220) is giving away a special Ssssh holiday – a seven-night stay for two – at St James’s Club Morgan Bay in Saint Lucia to celebrate the launch of its Silent Beach Cinema next summer.
As sugar-laced as the rum cocktails might be, life is even sweeter for Grenada Tourism Authority (CA101), which is giving away chocolate to the first five agents who sign up for its training programme on Tuesday and Wednesday, while those who register later go into a draw for a bottle of Pure Grenada rum. This comes as Grenadan property True Blue Bay Boutique Resort (on the same stand) unveils its new Yoga and Chocolate breaks running next February, May, October and December, with guests enjoying morning yoga and sunset meditation, with visits to cocoa plantations and cooking classes in between.
Tobago Estate will be giving chocolate-making demonstrations and tastings at the Trinidad & Tobago Tourist Board (CA240). It will also be giving away a 50in Samsung TV as part of the launch of The Travel App – a Samsung Smart TV app – featuring photos of the islands, and appearances from Trinidadian Dwight Yorke and Eastenders actor Rudolph Walker.
From one group of islands to another, the Falkland Islands Tourist Board (LA249) will be going all-out to raise its profile among agents with a new agent training module and How to Sell the Falklands brochures. Managing director Tony Mason says: “The Falklands stand will be even bigger and better this year and we have lots of initiatives to share with the trade. We’ve had another great year for arrivals and want to continue the momentum with some exciting giveaways.”
Those will range from a Falklands goodie bag featuring local Diddle Dee Jam, a place on a 2015 fam trip, and even an iPad – plus the chance of a selfie with cuddly mascot Stanley the Penguin.
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (CA200) will be talking about the reopening of Sandals Barbados on January 28 after a £40 million renovation of its 280 rooms – featuring four-poster beds and flatscreen TVs – plus a swim-up pool bar, beachfront whirlpool, wedding garden and 11 restaurants including Butch’s Chophouse and the brand’s first Indian restaurant Bombay Club. sandals.co.uk
PromPeru (LA400) is predicting a boost from forthcoming film Paddington, telling the tale of the bear who famously arrived at London’s Paddington station from Peru, which will reach UK cinemas on November 28. peru.travel
Egypt might be most famous for its pyramids and Red Sea diving, but they’re a bit tricky to transport to the Excel Centre. More portable, though, are the falafel, broad bean-based foul madams and super-sweet baklava, which will be on offer at the Egyptian Tourist Authority (AF500-550), along with Alexandrian dance and traditional music to get visitors in the Egyptian spirit.
There’ll be some east African sounds from the Kenya Tourism Board (AF270) too, in a joint event with the Rwanda and Uganda Tourist Boards on Wednesday from 6pm-8pm. Kenya will also be encouraging a more positive view of the destination by giving away #WhyILoveKenya-branded goodies and a Magical Kenya photo booth with pictures that can be uploaded to social media or printed out as keepsakes.
There won’t be anything left to take home after Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (AF300) has its annual bunny chow, serving the moreish South African dish of a hollowed-out bread loaf filled with different flavours of curry. That will be joined by other KZN dishes boerewors rolls (similar to a hot dog), koeksisters (a sweet plaited doughnut) and all-important ice-cold beers for an evening of fun, from 4.30pm-6pm on Wednesday.
News from Africa
The Gambia Tourism Board (AF100) will be kicking off a year of celebration as February 2015 marks the country’s 50th anniversary of independence from the UK. The team will be encouraging tourists to venture farther inland to cruise along the River Gambia, see abundant bird life and a chimp rehabilitation project, and visit local villages. visitthegambia.gm
The Tunisian National Tourist Office (AF650) will be hosting its first female Minister of Tourism at this year’s show. Amel Karboul has already introduced a new National Quality Label to raise standards across hotels, tourism, transport and the environment, and will be launching a ‘We Are Energy’ marketing strategy to revitalise tourism to the country. cometotunisia.co.uk
Asia and Australasia
It’s all about airlift in Asia, with an array of new flights to these far-flung destinations. Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (AS200) is hosting on-stand drinks with the Miss England finalists on Monday from 4pm-5pm, to talk about Emirates’ increased double-daily A380 service from Dubai to Mauritius and plans for an expanded fleet from Air Mauritius.
Thai Airways (AS340) will be giving away two pairs of return tickets to Bangkok and another domestic destination in prize draws at 4pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, with flight attendants and interactive games giving guests a taste of the airline experience. Likewise Garuda Indonesia (AS640) will be showcasing the best of Indonesian service with nasi kuning (turmeric-flavoured rice), spicy meat dish rendang and Dutch-influenced cake lapis legit – many of which are served on the airline’s five-times-weekly Gatwick-Jakarta flight.
Another new flight, this time a British Airways service to Kuala Lumpur next May, will be the hot topic for Tourism Malaysia (AS500), except for when MasterChef champion Ping Coombes comes along to cook some Malaysian treats on Monday. There’s an altogether cuddlier guest due to make an appearance at the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (AS550); as well as giving away two holidays, tourism mascot Oh!Bear will lead a splendidly quirky dance routine during Wednesday’s 5pm-6pm happy hour.
There will be less dance and more rugby over on the South Pacific stand, where Samoa Tourism Authority (AS265) is giving away two tickets to the England v Samoa match at Twickenham on November 22, as well as 10 rugby stress balls and 10 Samoan silk pouches.
And if that wasn’t enough sport, Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Australia (AS335) have teamed up to mark the 100-day countdown to the ICC Cricket World Cup on February 14.
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