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Article from BTNews 9 NOVEMBER 2009

COMMENT: Visit World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) is upon us once again, the 30th manifestation of what now competes with ITB as the world’s senior gathering of the international travel industry.

WTM does have two major advantages over the Berlin event.  WTM is in a single building, with a 50% expansion due to open in May 2010.

Its other great benefit is Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport, although with the present government’s passenger tax policy this may be now short lived.  A classic example of how to destroy the goose that laid the golden egg.  Ferrovial have not helped although there are some signs that the Spanish owners are beginning to realise British thinking is different to their own.

What is surprising is that British Airways, who must carry a major proportion of incoming visitors to the show and is an important player in the tourist trade, has no visibility at all at Excel.

It is not even possible to physically make a booking or change a flight reservation at the show.  Only via internet.  Global industry visitors cannot even talk to BA.

Yes it can be argued that a stand or kiosk is not cost effective but somehow BA management must be persuaded that it needs to be seen as part of the marketing/sales battle.

In what is proving to be the longest economic downturn since the end of the Second World War the travel industry somehow remains robust.  Not for everyone.  IATA continues to publish horrific figures concerning its members and delays to the A380, Boeing Dreamliner, and the A350 may have been bad news for the manufacturers, but in truth was just what the airline doctor ordered.

The (Government inspired?) downward rush of the pound sterling towards parity with the Euro must have an effect on UK outbound traffic for next year, together with the Government’s, already mentioned, very open, theft – officially called APD.  At least MPs going abroad on holiday will have to pay it in full, just like the rest of us.

The good news is that inbound business and tourism should do well, but originating traffic from the UK looks to be potentially very weak.

Some 50,000 people will pass through Excel during the next few days.  There will be endless announcements, fine entertainment and much liquor consumed.  The number of social invitations flowing is easily a record.

If you think that WTM is hard work and much walking, in 2010 it is going to be that much harder!

Well done Reed in assembling the show.  Yes there will be problems over the next few days, that is inevitable, but WTM is not just a travel industry gathering but a showcase for London and the United Kingdom.  If you are not planning to go, move something in the diary.  Visiting Excel this week (up to and including Thursday) will be well worth the effort.  You never know who you might meet. www.wtmlondon.com


Malcolm Ginsberg

Editor in Chief

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