Inspired by the positive regional potential of Expo 2020 and despite low oil revenues, increased numbers of travel professionals from across the Middle East, participated in this year’s World Travel Market London 2016.
This helped the leading international travel trade to record a joint-record attendance of 51,500 and the highest number of exhibitor invitees and buyers in the 37-year history of the event.
There were a number of new exhibitors from the Middle East this year, including Saudia, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia and travel organization – Alraqi from the Sultanate of Oman. Other key exhibitors included the tourism boards and associated partners from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kingdom of Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran Doostan, Kuwait Airways and Oman Air.
Overall, the number of Middle East exhibitors showed a steady growth of 2.26% compared to 2015 as regional governments look to diversify their economies away from falling hydrocarbon receipts. Those from the UAE occupied the lion’s share of floor space devoted to the region, which was to be expected with Expo 2020 Dubai on the horizon, but the indirect boost to
regional travel and destinations, was not being underestimated, by other regional tourism boards.
The new-look three-day World Travel Market London enjoyed extended opening hours from 10am – 7pm, which was phenomenally well received by the global travel industry with 51,444 senior industry executives in attendance – a 4% increase on last year, according to unaudited figures. The increase takes total participant numbers back to the level of 2014 – a record for the event, which launched in 1980.
Furthermore, the key benchmark of exhibitor invitees and WTM Buyers’ Club members in attendance were also at record levels.
Exhibitor invitees – senior industry executives invited by exhibitors on the first day of WTM London to discuss business deals – were up 9% to 14,140.
WTM Buyers’ Club is the leading business club for senior travel industry decision makers with direct purchasing responsibility. The number of pre-qualified buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club that attended the event stood at 9,714 – a 6% increase on WTM London 2015.
Total visitor numbers (excluding press, ministers, ministers’ aides and students) stood at 31,951 – a 5% increase on WTM London 2015.
More than 865,500 on-stand connections took place over the three days of WTM London 2016 (Monday 7 – Wednesday 9 November) leading to more than £2.5 billion in industry deals being negotiated and signed.
Furthermore, more than 3,000 (3,034) of the world’s media were in attendance – the highest number for more than ten years – making the WTM International Press Centre the largest recurring press operation in the UK. The WTM International Press Centre was moved to the exhibitor floor for the first time to put the media at the heart of the event.
World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “WTM London has grown at an unprecedented rate in recent years making it the event where the industry conducts its business.
“More than £2.5 billion in industry contracts were agreed at WTM London 2016 with more than 9,700 buyers conducting 865,500 meetings with 5,000 exhibitors.
“The record number of participants, exhibitor invitees and WTM Buyers’ Club members is testament to the success of the new-look three-day WTM London and demonstrates all the key decision-makers and those with purchasing responsibility attend WTM London.”
Audited figures of WTM London 2016 will be available in the New Year.
The travel trade industry is now preparing for Arabian Travel Market 2017, the Middle East installment of the World Travel Market portfolio, which is taking place from 24 to 27 April at Dubai World Trade Centre. Considered by many industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, Arabian Travel Market witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 8% to over 39,800 in 2016, with 2,520 exhibiting companies signing business deals worth more than US$2.5 billion over four days.
Arabian Travel Market 2017 will build on the success of this year’s edition with the announcement of an additional hall as Reed Travel Exhibitions looks to add to its record-breaking achievements earlier this year.