World Travel Market Review

By | Category: Travel rumblings

As you know we have been at the World Travel Market for four days this week. 19 stories about different destinations or events that we came across have been put on the website so forgive us if we have provided too much reading in one go. (although more on this in a minute.) To end the coverage, here are some random thoughts of what we saw and thought.

Firstly, the Jubilee underground line and the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) had to accommodate an additional 40-50,000 people. There were power failures and delays (including one on Tuesday that lasted approximately 45 minutes), however they were nowhere near as bad as those experienced two years ago when the mayor of London and the prime minister came to apologise to delegates. For overseas travel agents and tour operators who will be selling the 2012 Olympics, the main topic seemed to be that if London can’t move this number of people to Excel, how will they cope with the additional hundreds of thousands each day? They might have concerns but luckily for UK plc they will go home and still sell packages to the Olympics because that is how they make their money. If the tour operators don’t make the sale, they  won’t make any money. Nonetheless, the hope is London gets its act together in time for the Olympics.

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Moving on, some nations that haven’t been seen at WTM in recent years such as Iraq and Myanmar (Burma) were there to start the long haul drive to attract tourists. Palestine was also present and the stands for India and its states were larger than CD Traveller can ever remember. But there were omissions – step forward Cambodia, Wales and much of England. On the other hand, traditional destinations such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey were as large and as strong as ever.

Each year we hear ministers calling their countries unique and family friendly as they all jump from one bandwagon to another. This year, the theme seemed to be ‘ value for money’. Indonesia and Israel were certainly singing from this song sheet and even perceived luxury destinations like Maldives and Seychelles were talking of mid priced hotel packages.

Normally one destination emerges as the ‘hot ticket’ – Abu Dhabi and all of South America have emerged as must visits in recent years.  This year that didn’t seem to happen – although Lebanon would like us to fall in love with Lebanon.

It appears that airline passenger numbers are about where they were before the recession, but the concern now is what effect air passenger duty will have on British, Irish, German and Austrian travellers booking for next year. And whether the imposition of a visa charge, might cause some of us to think twice about travelling there…

For overseas countries, will the staycation continue and will we stay at home rather than take money into their economies? And there lies another issue. How will areas in the UK promote tourism here as a result of the cutbacks?
Despite the forecasts, no-one knows the answers. Watch this space!

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