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Exceed Expectations

Attendance up at World Travel Market 2008

eTN Staff Writer  Nov 25, 2008

World Travel Market visitors increased by 12 percent, unaudited figures have revealed. Total participants were an unprecedented 50,246, an increase of 4 percent.

Trade delegate attendance went up to 26,498, compared to 23,722 in 2007. There was also a 4 percent increase in the number of exhibiting companies to 5,631.

"This was a phenomenal result, exceeding expectations," said Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market. "It demonstrated that in these tough times for the industry, it is absolutely necessary for senior and middle management to come together, not only to conduct business and identify new contacts and markets, but also to discuss, debate, and address the many challenges that lie ahead. The next year will be tough, but we hope World Travel Market has been able to help business secure a safer and more successful course for the future."

Jeffery continued: "Delivering record numbers of trade visitors and exhibitors from over 200 countries and regions, a high proportion of new faces, destinations, companies, and UK and international media was absolutely key in fulfilling our promise to the global industry.

"Added to this, we were able to attract some of the world's leading economic, industry, and highly-specialist experts to assist and advise delegates. Hundreds of seminars, presentations, workshops, press conferences, meetings, and debates were held during the four days."

Jeffery added that the results demonstrated the success of World Travel Market's new admission policy. This ensured a quieter day on Monday for exhibitors to focus on especially important business contacts, while carefully targeted business events helped to spread the number of trade visitors attending throughout the remainder of the week. She explained that this crucially allowed exhibitors to maximize their presence and resource.

One of the highlights was the increasing success of technology and online travel exhibitors which saw more than a 9 percent growth with 11 new exhibitors.

There were 20 new exhibitors in World Travel Market's UK and Ireland area, up by nearly 4 percent. The number of exhibitors from the Middle East and the Americas were also up.

Overall, there were nearly 100 new exhibitors.

Ministers' Summit
More than 200 Ministers and senior aides attended the second UNWTO Summit, hosted by World Travel Market. The top-level gathering on Tuesday, November 11, bringing together the largest number of tourism Ministers anywhere in the world, examined how best to respond to the economic downturn without losing sight of priorities such as climate change and poverty reduction.

"It's a measure of World Travel Market's role in helping to lead the international industry that it was once again chosen as the backdrop for such an important occasion," said Jeffery. "The outcome of these summit discussions will penetrate government thinking and policy for the tourism industry in years to come."

WTM World Responsible Tourism Day
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day on Wednesday, November 12 - the world's most ambitious global day of action - got much tougher this year with a challenging, thought provoking, and extended program. Outside of World Travel Market, the day was marked worldwide by events such as press conferences, product launches, picnics, a community fair, and even a charity run.

"Its aim is a simple one," said Jeffery. "We want to encourage every travel company, operator, hotel, and destination to take real action and show consumers that we not only care about the sustainability of planet Earth but also the communities that are so often negatively affected by mass tourism."

Jeffrey said: "I say it's a simple ideal, but I'm well aware that it's not as easy as that. We are talking about changing people's perceptions, smashing myths, challenging long-held beliefs.

"Making tourism responsible is one of the single biggest challenges that the industry faces today, and with the rise in ethical thinking, growing numbers of consumers are looking to the industry to take a lead. Much is being done, but sadly not nearly enough."

"WTM World Responsible Tourism Day is probably one of the most talked about initiatives that we have ever undertaken. As the industry begins to recognize its vital long term importance, the day is gaining strength and supporters."

Global Economic Forum
Some of the world's foremost economic brains came together for the prestigious WTM Global Economic Forum on Thursday when senior management were helped with business planning for 2010 and 2011.

There was also a plea to governments not to tax the life out of the travel and tourism industry.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president of World Travel and Tourism Council, implored, "Don't overcharge, overtax, surcharge. On the contrary, let this industry help you to restart your economies."

A comprehensive and integrated agents program of skills, training, product knowledge, and career advice also took place on Thursday.

Attendance up at World Travel Market 2008
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