The glitz and glamour of the just-concluded World Travel Market held in Excel, East London would leave lasting impressions on all the participants as it paraded the best in travels, tourism and hospitality across the globe, writes Funke Olaode
It is a massive edifice that attracts attention. It is an avenue that gives stakeholders the opportunity to keep up with the latest developments in travels. The World Travel Market situated in Excel, East London has often been described as a place to showcase tourism and hospitality by stakeholders across the globe. It is a leading global event for the travel industry. And over the years, it has lived up to its expectations by showcasing the best.
Between November 4 and 8, 2012, the world again converged on London to brainstorm on how to make the industry better. And not even the economy recession that is beating hard on some European countries could dampen their spirit as over 187 countries still found their way to London to participate.
From the WTM Chairman's Stable
The official opening of WTM ceremony kicked off on Monday November 4 at the First Class Lounge at the upper floor of the Excel by BBC veteran journalist, Stephen Sackur, who has anchored it for six successive years. Introduction over, the chairman of WTM Fiona Jeffery strolled into the podium to give an account of how far she had gone in making this year's event memorable. She was later supported by former Global CEO and Chairman Burger King, Barry Gibbons.
In her remarks, Jeffery praised the resilience of the participants despite the economic recession that has engulfed various countries across the globe. According to her, there is no doubt that economic instability in the Euro Zone has affected everyone, and the pain felt by every sector cannot be ignored. Jeffery noted that even in this turbulent time, there is hope in the tourism industry. "I am amazed at the turnout this year. Tourism is a difficult terrain but resilient, perseverance and commitment on the part of stakeholders have kept it going".
Emphasizing the need for all to embrace tourism, which according to Jeffery, is a new breath of air to the economy, she stressed that "Travel and tourism has come far with creation of jobs, economy boosts, leisure and relaxation. Travels and tourism will remain big given the fact that it has contributed to the world GDP and has created 98 million jobs worldwide. It is a challenging time, but I want to assure delegates that WTM is working for you and working with you as we look forward with expansion toward 2013," she assured.
Jeffery therefore appealed to governments to give the industry the recognition it deserves as it helps to turn lives around and promote economy prosperity
WTM's Impressive Outing
World Travel Market is the leading global event in the travel calendar. It is the biggest and best ever with an increased focus on three growth sectors of travel: technology, luxury and business. At the first three days of World Travel Market 2012, the leading global event for the travel industry experienced an impressive visitor increase of 4%. Monday 5 to Wednesday 7 November saw 38,735 visitors walk through the doors of Excel - London to attend WTM 2012. Ministers of tourism also gathered in London for the 6th UNWTO/WTM. Ministers' Summit concluded that complicated visas processes and policies that limit air connectivity continue to present major barriers to the growth of travel and tourism. Ministers and representatives from major tour operators and airlines further called for increased intra-governmental cooperation.
Nigeria At its Best at WTM
Nigeria again has proved herself as indeed the giant of Africa. This was further confirmed at the just-concluded travel market as its stand stood tall among those of other African nations. The impressive showing has been described as the manifestation of the dynamic leadership of the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Chief Olusegun Runsewe. The Nigerian tourism industry got international recognition at WTM from two independent global reports, which described Nigeria as a potential powerhouse in the travel and tourism markets in the world. The two reports were from the World Travel Market (WTM) 2012 industry reports and WTM Global Trends Reports carried out with Euromonitor International.
The 2012 industry reports personally signed by WTM chairman, Fiona Jeffery highlighted Nigeria as a viable travel and tourism destination. This was arrived at after thorough survey conducted by its experienced staff. Head of Tourism Research of Euromonitor International, Caroline Bremmel, revealed how Nigeria 's film industry, dubbed Nollywood, has placed the country on the world map. In the 53-page report tagged "Africa-Destination-Nollywood," Bremmel said Nollywood was the second largest in volume terms after Bollywood (India) and ahead of Hollywood (US) with over 2,000 films produced annually. Nollywood, according to the reports, is popular in many African countries. Other important markets, it noted, are foreign markets with significant number of Nigerian Diaspora in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.
Middle East and Asia 's Show of Affluence
International expansion is an important part of the new road map for the tourism division. Many countries did not disappoint as they showed their interest in boosting tourism across borders. Known for its oil wealth, The Middle East comprising Qatar, United Arab Emirates and a host of others paraded stands that left many participants and guests agape. From the interior to exterior, everything speaks influence and affluence. The impact of Asian countries with their breathtaking stands could not be over-emphasised either. African countries also were conspicuously present and displayed their cultural heritage. The Caribbean Island, Trinidad and Tobago, etc were all captivating as they displayed the best of their beauties. With over 187 countries present, once again, the World Travel Market in London, has further strengthened the bond among international countries
And the Exhibition Came to an End
The World Travel Market 2012 closed on Thursday November 8. The final day of course saw the popular Speed Networking, which took place for the first time. This saw more than 100 buyers discuss post-WTM deals with exhibitors in the Meridian Club. With close to one billion people expected to travel round the world in the coming year, the just-concluded WTM in Excel, London actually provided an insight to various destinations where tourists could enjoy a life of luxury.