WTM chairman: Tough year ahead for global travel industry


LONDON – The global travel and tourism industry is an incredible force to be reckoned with regardless of what the financial tsunami decides to throw at it, Fiona Jeffery, chairman of World Travel Market (WTM) said on Monday.

Speaking at the WTM opening ceremony in east London, she told government ministers, ambassadors, trade association and tourism chiefs that the global industry is robust, diversified, innovative, entrepreneurial, and in most cases financially sound.

“We simply cannot ignore the crumbling collapses that have scarred international financial markets in recent weeks”, she said. “We have to face the fact that in some parts of the world in 2009 — certainly here in Western Europe — less package holidays will be sold and those that are, will undoubtedly increase in price.”

Recognizing just how tough it is for much of the industry right now, the chairman hoped that during the next four days World Travel Market can contribute positively to helping business plan and reach out to new markets and profit revenues.

“It’s vital that these economic headaches do not mean the industry loses sight of other major industry challenges such as sustainable development, global warming and poverty reduction.”

But the chairman noted that as most governments have signed up to work together for a global approach to address the meltdown in the financial sector, this is also high time for the international travel industry to seek a global approach, and demonstrate co-operative leadership.

The World Travel Market is an annual trade event for business, networking and learning opportunities. This year it has drawn 5,500 exhibitors from over 200 countries and regions, with seminar and conference programs addressing the future of tourism, the global credit crunch, and responsible tourism.