News From the Floor of the World Tourism Market

Exhibitors were upbeat on the trade show floor of the World Tourism Market (WTM) at the ExCel Arena in London’s Docklands and many had exciting news to share with the over 20,000 buyers in attendance. Here are some of the more noteworthy announcements.

Abu Dhabi Advances
WTM organizers Reed Exhibitions signed a three year deal making Abu Dhabi WTM’s Premier Partner.  That is just one highlight of what has been an extraordinary year for the emirate. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), has been voted ‘World’s Leading Tourist Board’ for the second year running in the World Travel Awards along with Best Stand Feature for their Saadiyat Island stand.  WTA was their opportunity to promote the November opening of Ferrari World, which Abu Dhabi claims as the world’s biggest indoor theme park.  ADTA will continue accelerating into 2011 with the opening of a New York office.

“Not long ago, we were a curiosity item at WTM,” said Mr Dayne Lim, ADTA’s Product Development Director. “But as our infrastructure improved and new attractions have come into play we are less a novelty and are now implementing a bolder marketing plan that includes doubling our MICE business.”

American waves
The folks at the VisitAmerica stand were looking upbeat as usual, despite being shunted from their position as the number one country brand in the World by Canada, according to FutureBrand, the New York-based global brand consultancy.   

US delegates were also adjusting to the 2010 WTM Global Trends Report, which indicated that rich North Americans are turning their backs on excessive luxury in favor of boot camp-style holidays. With the recovery expected to gain momentum in 2011, the report pointed to a raft of new opportunities in this area for travel and tourism.

Jayne Buck, Denver, Colorado Tourism VP, was commensurately upbeat about growth prospects for green conventions. “We’ve been building on our state’s growing reputation in sustainable energy to attract environmentally concerned corporations,” she said. “And we’re still benefiting from the success of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, when the whole world saw how well a small city like ours could handle 100,000 delegates. Indian, Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and other organizers who previously would mostly consider only New York, Florida and California are increasingly seeing us as attractive, accessible and resourceful.”

“The cutting edge resource expertise they’re attracted to includes mining, geology medicine, metallurgy, oil and gas,” added Michael Driver, Colorado’s International Marketing Manager, “And of course, we’ve also got real cowboys.”

Intriguing local changes in the business climate further west were noted by Devon Isakson, Senior Sales Manager of the Hyatt Hotel, Andaz West Hollywood. “People are booking meetings short term because they’re not getting budgets long term,” she reported. “So instead of booking way ahead, many are taking a chance and reserving short term.  We’ve just booked a four day meeting for 60 senior executives of a large international retail brand with two weeks notice. It’s frightening. All of a sudden all this big business drops from the sky. As pricing can’t be ensured, we can be at the mercy of suppliers.  But next year’s trend seems to be picking up and probably normalizing.”

Iraq optimism
Following Iraq’s successful attendance at last year’s WTM, its first visit to a travel and tourism trade event in 10 years, IT reports that their hotel bookings and inbound flights are on the upswing. This year, the organization has been negotiating for even more investment in its tourism infrastructure, including new hotel openings to cater for business and leisure tourism.  By 2014, 700 hotels are expected to be open. 

Major international airlines including Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have also taken the decision to begin flying to the destination once more.  Business visitors are increasing with renewed interest from Gulf investors contributing to the 58 percent rise in business tourism last year.