World Travel Market London 2015: A busy day two

Day two of the highly popular World Travel Market London 2015 reportedly witnessed an impressive 29 per cent jump in buyer numbers, with visitor numbers rising my three per cent by lunchtime compared to 2014.

The second day of the travel event saw the UNWTO & WTM Ministers’ Summit take place, where more than 50 tourism ministers and deputy ministers debated on and investigated the challenges of branding destinations in the ‘brave new world’ of social media. The summit also welcomed input from Facebook, Expedia, Eurostar and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Secretary-General, UNWTO, Taleb Rifai remarked: “The rules of the game have changed and the consumer is in command. Destinations can reach out directly to consumers on social media, and consumers can be whistle blowers or ambassadors. It’s not enough to say you are good, you have to be good.”

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Meanwhile, the debate’s moderator, anchor, CNN International, Richard Quest commented that the rapid rise of social media means that countries’ brands are at “the mercy of so many external forces” over which they cannot control.

Also on day two, two award ceremonies also took place: The WTM World Travel Leaders Awards and the Best Stand Design Awards where Japan, the Canary Islands, Egypt, Etihad Airways and eRevMax were crowned winners.

Head of sales, WTM London, Deborah Dewe stated: “Every year exhibitors pull out all the stops to ensure their stands achieve maximum exposure. This year, feedback shows stand design has moved up a gear with the judges reporting a greater selection of design stands than ever before.”

Focusing on sports tourism, the second day also welcomed Olympic cycling hero, Sir Bradley Wiggins who dropped in on the Balearic Islands’ stand for a photo shoot to promote sporting initiatives in the Spanish destination.

Moving on, a sports tourism debate heard that the numbers attracted by an event may be relatively small, but the media exposure can be enormous.

Other topics touched upon topics such as food culture, with executive director, World Food Travel Association, Erik Wolf speaking about how F&B can be a driver of economic development, while an announcement was made that Sicily will be receiving a brand new daily flight from London. British Airways’ first ever direct flight to Palermo launches in May 2016.

Throughout day two, Mexico City communicated that it will work with the country’s popular beach destinations to encourage more twin-centre holidays. In the past six months, seven carriers have announced plans for new routes or expanded services to the Mexican capital from key North American and European cities.