LONDON (eTN) – The chairman of the European Tour Operators Association’s (ETOA) Associate Committee, Felix Guttman, has made a bold statement: that ETOA’s Global European Marketplace is more significant than its mammoth counterpart in London, the World Travel Market.

In a brief chat with eTurboNews on Thursday, November 6, Guttman, who works for Amsterdam-based Canal Company and is taking part in the ongoing 18th ETOA Global Marketplace, said, “Workshop-wise, this is the place be in; to certainly not change it – never change a winning team. And for us and our company in Amsterdam, we have picked up quite a bit of business here in the past few years, and actually we have come to the point that we no longer take a stand in the World Travel Market, because the real work is done here.”

If what Guttman is saying is true, then ETOA is indeed promising on quality over quantity. ETOA this year has gathered some 100 delegates for the conference and 180 buyers and 310 suppliers from various parts of the world, mostly from Europe, as opposed to the thousands that are expected to flock to this year’s WTM, slated to be held from November 10 to 13 at the ExCel Center.

According to Guttman, ETOA’s event achieves more in terms of actual negotiating than any other events in London. He said, “It’s a very effective workshop; it’s actually the best workshop – the most effective workshop that I know of – where tour operators meet suppliers, because in one day, more work gets done than in weeks of running around Europe or running around the states.”

He added, “I’ve been around for quite a few years in this industry, and what’s the nice thing about this workshop is, that the right people, the right contractors, and the tour operators get at a table and talk with the right suppliers who they can do business with. There is not a lot of free talking done that’s really action, so people get to know each other here and follow up on and do the business.”

For Guttman, ETOA has managed to have the right contracting people. “They are the ones who make the decisions,” he said.

When pressed about the comparison between ETOA’s event and WTM, he said, “It is a lot bigger, but there’s a lot of handshaking on World Travel Market; there’s a lot of business done in the ETOA.”

Ultimately, Guttman is saying ETOA is doing more for his company than the World Travel Market.

Separately, Guttman acknowledged that his company, Canal Company, is feeling the impact of the global economic meltdown. He said, “Yes, that has some effect, of course. In the short term, it has affected intercontinental travel, but what you see there is that it has more effect on those companies that are involved in the actual intercontinental traveling – so the airlines and tour operators – and less on the local companies like myself, because we see replacing business by the intra-European business. So a lot of Americans are not coming to Europe, but the Europeans are not going to America either. They are staying in Europe, and they are saying, okay, instead of making this expensive trip, long haul, we’ll take a weekend to Amsterdam, and we’ll do some fun there.”

Guttman called the travel phenomenon intra-European domestic tourism. However, he also admitted that the US is still very much a market of interest. He even noted that US travelers, compared to Australians, are still the big spenders. “The average spending of the Australians is somewhat less than of the Americans, which suits me fine, because we have a lot of Australians as our clients.”