The first day of WTM Latin America, which opened its doors on Wednesday, April 22, at Expo Center Norte in São Paulo, alongside the 43rd Braztoa Business Event, was attended by exhibitors, buyers and visitors from around the world who surged through the doors looking to do business.With a full comprehensive event program and almost 1,300 exhibitors on the show floor, there was a lot of movement during the day and positive feedback from the professionals who praised the larger venue and new initiatives that had been organized.
Reifer de Souza Junior, Sales Director of Maringá Turismo, a region in Brazil, made some excellent contacts at the company’s first appearance at WTM Latin America. “We’re here for the first time and I can already say that this is an event that’s fundamental for doing new business and establishing partnerships. We had many meetings today and we were able to perceive the high level of professionalism of those who are getting in touch with us. We also took advantage of the presence of suppliers from destinations and services to strengthen relationships and encourage interchange,” he said. He is exhibiting in the new Business Travel area on the exhibition floor that is organized in partnership with ALAGEV (Latin American Association of Events and Corporate Travel Managers).
Alexander Haim, Sales Manager of major cruise line, Royal Caribbean, has exhibited since the first edition in 2013 and said that being at this event is always a positive experience and went on to say: “It’s a great opportunity to establish relationships and identify opportunities. We subsequently re-establish contacts and close business deals. Just today a corporate events’ company got in touch with us and we’ve already scheduled a meeting to arranging a corporate cruise. WTM Latin America is undoubtedly an important shop window.”
Amongst the many insightful conferences and seminars taking place during day one, WTM Latin America, in association with Euromonitor International, a leading market research provider presented a session exclusively for press. Alexis Frick, Research Analyst for Euromonitor International, ran through the findings of the WTM Latin America Trends Report 2015.
Among the main trends it revealed the growth in and strengthening of religious tourism in Brazil; according to the report and the Ministry of Tourism, 7.7 million domestic trips were faith-driven last year. Frick explained, for example, how the election of Pope Francis, who is Argentinian, has led to a renewal in Catholicism in the whole of Latin America.
The study also pointed out that inbound tourism in the region will grow considerably up until 2018 and that family travel is a trend for the wider Latin American market. Between 2006 and 2014, family trips became the most common way for Argentinians to travel abroad.
The same thing has happened in Brazil since 2010. In Peru on the other hand, and in Colombia, travelling with the family represented almost half of all leisure travel abroad in 2014.
Around 60 Brazilian and International press including well known Brazilian bloggers who are members of the ABBV (Brazilian Association of Travel Blogs), were present at Meet the Media session. This was a speed networking opportunity exclusively for press and exhibitors to meet and exchange business cards and stories in quick meetings.
Giorgio Maggi, a journalist with L’Agenzia di Viaggi, a travel trade Italian publication commented, “It was fantastic. All our associates had the opportunity to make contact with various tourism products all at the same time.”
Silvia Oliveira, president of the ABBV also commented, “This contact with various exhibitors in just one place is very useful for travel bloggers.”
Constanza Leiva, Marketing Manager for Latin America of the Chilean Tierra Hotels chain, emphasized the importance of Meet the Media, saying, “Some of the journalists who already knew our destination had no idea of the new options and launches we have.”
The panel discussion later that day presented by research company PhocusWright entitled “Trends in Latin American Travel and Tourism Markets and the Impact of Digital Tourism” revealed that Latin America accounts for 7% of the world tourism market, with online purchases representing 4% of this amount. The total number of trips sold online and offline shows that Brazil and Mexico are the most sought after destinations in Latin America, followed by Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Colombia and Peru had the biggest growth in online sales last year – 20% and 22%, respectively. Growth in Latin America in 2014 was 16%, displacing Europe and the United States, regions that have the largest slice of world tourism, with 8% and 9%, respectively.
During Braztoa’s Leisure Tourism Forum, another attraction on the first day of WTM Latin America 2015, Gil Giardelli, a professor at ESPM, talked about the importance of data for the growth of companies and how this can also function for tourism companies.
The UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) panel discussion about Tourist Routes, was chaired by director Márcio Favilla, who emphasized that the main integration challenges between regions and countries start with the way they facilitate visas and with the air and land connectivity that exists between destinations.
To complete the highlights of the day’s education program, Responsible Tourism expert Professor Harold Goodwin presented a session on “Why responsible tourism makes sense from the commercial viewpoint.” Goodwin looked at three case studies in which sustainability helped increase visitor numbers and occupation, these included the Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul; Parque dos Sonhos [Dream Park], in Sorocaba, in the State of São Paulo; and the Inkaterra hotels in Peru.
Isabel Barnasque, a representative of the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism, also talked about the sustainability projects supported by the federal government, like Viaja Melhor Idade (Best Age Travels).
The recently appointed Nick Pilbeam, Director of the Travel Division of Reed Exhibitions, made a point of coming to Brazil to accompany this third edition of the show and explained how this was looking to be the “biggest and best event yet.”
Lawrence Reinisch, Exhibition Director, WTM Latin America commented: “We’re very satisfied with the opening of the 2015 edition of WTM Latin America. I’ve received extremely positive feedback, which strengthens the feeling that we’ve achieved what we set out to and we´re also extremely excited to see what the next two days brings.”