WTM Connect Asia 2016 closed on a high note today. The event took place from May 18-20 in Penang, Malaysia. Hosted Buyers from China, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world met, networked, and had serious business meetings with international exhibitors.
The World Travel Market Portfolio launched the 1-2-1 ratio pod format to facilitate business in the growing Chinese and South East Asian leisure travel markets. The event, which steps away from a traditional exhibition format, proved to be successful amongst all attendees with the simple, effective set up with a focus on quality appointment schedules.
Over the course of two days (19 & 20 May) more than 1,800 meetings took place. Hosted Buyers and suppliers met for 20 minute meetings and had further opportunities to network during breaks and evening functions.
Shangri-la Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa was the stunning location for the Beach Gala Dinner on Thursday 19 May. The venue welcomed attendees with local culture, music and cuisine in a glorious beach setting against a sunset backdrop.
Exhibitors in attendance included: Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Ministry of Tourism Indonesia, Philippines Tourism Promotions Board, Penang Global Tourism, Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau, Visit Berlin, Jac Travel, Inner Maldives, Eskimos Iceland, Cox & Kings (India), Westfield, Travellanda, C Hotels, Discovery Overland Holidays Sdn Bhd, Marriot Vacation Club International, Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru and many more.
Yusuf Poonawala, Vice President, Cox and Kings (India) said: “We love the pod concept which is less competitive with other exhibitors leaving us to concentrate on meetings. Our focus is China and the meetings we have had with Chinese buyers have been fruitful, there are serious buyers here.”
Buyers from 25 countries attended the show, including: Antavaya, Beijing Luxtrip Holding Ltd, Caissa, Cathay Pacific Holidays, Gate 1 Travel, Interpark, Mayflower Holidays Sdn Bhd, Novatours Group and Uthing Travel.
Ricardo Baptista, General Manager, Total Fun (Portugal) said: “The evening functions were at two amazing venues, everyone was overwhelmed with the hospitality. The business days and meetings were much better than expected with a good selection of exhibitors. We came here and closed deals!”
Charlie Cracknell, Senior Exhibition Director for Reed Travel Exhibitions stated: “We have been delighted with the feedback from both exhibitors and buyers alike who report highly productive and quality business meetings providing real ROI. The event has been enhanced further from exceptional service from our hosts and partners. Attendees have been wowed by a variety of cultural experiences, beautiful hotels, delicious food and breath-taking scenery. WTM Connect Asia has brought together leisure travel buyers and sellers in a truly unique setting.”
WTM Connect Asia 2016 received strong support from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, Tourism Malaysia and Penang Global Tourism both pre show and onsite with over 20 VIP’s in attendance.
Speaking on behalf of Penang Global Tourism, Ooi Chok Yan, CEO commented: “Congratulations to Reed Exhibitions for successfully organising the first WTM Connect Asia here in Penang, Malaysia which is off to a good start and we’re very much looking forward to its continuity. The WTM branding has enhanced Penang’s status as a destination and this undeniably supports Penang to host more extensive and complex events”.
Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Director General of Tourism Malaysia went on to say: “I’m pleased that the inaugural WTM Connect Asia has successfully concluded. It has indeed contributed greatly in boosting the Asian leisure travel market. Throughout these three days, the event has provided a great platform for Malaysian and international sellers to showcase their products, network with international hosted buyers and explore potential partnerships and business opportunities. I’m also delighted that we get to highlight our extensive tourism offerings in Penang and Malaysia to all the delegates. Therefore, I look forward to welcoming all the delegates again to Penang and Malaysia next year for WTM Connect Asia 2017.”