Published on : Thursday, November 7, 2013
World Travel Market 2013’s third day (Wednesday 5 November) saw the confirmation of a number of business deals on the exhibition floor on the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world – World Responsible Tourism Day took place.
Turismo Andalucia’s experience is typical of many DMOs (destination marketing organisations) attending. It confirmed that in a single day (Tuesday) it signed agreements with five different tour operators, held talks with two different major UK airlines and was able to announce the region will host a travel agent conference next year. It also renewed a deal with a bed bank which was responsible this year for bringing more than half a million bed nights.
Its Head of International Marketing Antonio Martin-Machuca Ales said: “WTM is very important and so far we have been very successful. Next year the region should see between 10% and 15% more Brits taking advantage of our gastronomy, culture, city breaks, ski and golf product.”
The Canary Islands Vice Minister of Tourism Ricardo Fernandez said the islands have had a great WTM 2013, so much so he is extended his stay at the event. “So many people have asked me for meetings that I am staying longer to fit them all in,” he said, adding “with one tour operator we are going to do a lot in the coming year.”
Fernandez added that at WTM 2013 the Canary islands team have been able to focus on improving links and increasing capacity from emerging source markets of Russia and France as well as its traditional key markets.
The Canaries’ success this year comes as little surprise after a positive result from 2012. Fernandez said that, as a direct result of WTM2012, the islands saw an increase of 1.3 million air seats for the current winter season.
Elsewhere, Visit Flanders, WTM’s premier partner for 2013, confirmed that it will have the same relationship with WTM next year. It has also revealed more initiatives as part of its campaign to market the centenary of the Great War next year, included a hosted blog trip visiting key sites and attending commemorative events.
Other plans for next year announced by Flanders at WTM include a collaborative sculpture project, Comingworld, Remember Me. Some 600,000 pieces of ceramic art will be created and each given a dog tag with the name of a fallen soldier and placed in a field in Ypres.
Deals are the focus for WTM, but debates are also an important part of its overall offer. Aviation is a topic which can divide opinions. London Heathrow Chief Executive Colin Matthews said that having two airport hubs in the UK will not work. A UK government commission is currently examining expansion options for the London airports. Matthews was critical of plans for a high-speed train linking Heathrow and Gatwick. “That is not realistic,” he said. “We will have one hub or none, we will not have two,” and backed up his argument with examples of how airport expansion had been mismanaged in Shanghai and Tokyo.
Wednesday 6 November is also World Responsible Tourism Day, celebrated at WTM with a number of seminars and panel discussions. The Responsible Tourism Awards were also presented. The overall winner was TUI Netherlands, which picked up the accolade as a result of its work to address child sex tourism in northern Brazil.
Responsible tourism is a very broad area, and one aspect which WTM has been involved in is the role of women in the industry. Women make up over half of the industry but are under-represented at the executive level.
University of the West of England Senior Lecturer in International Tourism Development Dr Stroma Cole, said a report by the Equality In Tourism group showed less than 15% of board members in UK firms are women – and 25% of companies have no women at all on boards.
Another regular session at WTM is the OutNow LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Masterclass. Founder and CEO Ian Johnson unveiled new research which estimates that the LGBT community will spend more than $200bn on travel in 2014. Within this, the amount spent by the British LGBT community will exceed $10bn.