WTM London – the event where ideas arrive – will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year and will attract new exhibitors to the annual event in London this year.
The first-timers who have signed up for the biggest stands represent established destinations such as Mexico and Turkey and emerging ones such as Honduras and Malaysia.
The Iranian Tour Operators Association (Stand ME255) was established in 2006 and committed to opening up one of the world’s most ancient civilisations to inbound tourism. With more 170 members, its purpose at WTM this year will be “to acquaint those interested in visiting Iran with the rich culture of our country”. The group’s ambition is “to provide services for tourists comparable with developed countries”.
Honduras is another first-timer at WTM London. The Latin American country is represented by its state-run Honduras Institute of Tourism (LA52). The “small but adventure packed country” appeals to anyone interested in culture, archaeology, beaches, underwater adventures, modern cities, historic cities, ecotourism and world heritage sites.
The Mexican Caribbean promotional board (LA135) is also making its WTM debut. The region’s tourism offer covers Caribbean beaches, tropical jungle, Mayan culture, and Mexican traditions.
Elsewhere, visitors can learn about what Russia’s 85 regions have for tourists at the Federal Agency for Tourism of Russian Federation stand. (EU1870). Indeed, many of these regions also have their own representation – the Moscow Project Office for Tourism and Hospitality Development (EU1950) can get specific about what to do in the capital.
Similarly, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (EU1370), which has 10,000 members in Turkey, will highlight to the WTM audience the country’s wide and varied tourism offer, from alternative and youth tourism to gastronomy and health.
Responsible tourism is a constant theme across WTM London. One new exhibitor, Tanah Aina Resorts (AS600), is an eco-tourism brand with 10 resorts in Malaysia, combining a rainforest experience with modern comforts.
Kuwait Airways (ME450) is also making its first appearance at WTM London. The airline is expanding its fleet with 15 new Airbus planes over the next few years, two of which have been delivered.
Two new exhibitors from Saudi Arabia are hoping to benefit from the country becoming more welcoming to foreign tourists. Seera Group (ME645) is a Saudi Arabian tour operator and travel agent which announced in September it was investing SAR1bn (£210m) to help the country’s inbound tourism industry.
Visitors can also find out from the developers of the Red Sea Development Project (ME760) on Saudi Arabia’s west coast. The plan is for a luxury tourism destination spanning 28,000 square kilometres, featuring 90+ islands, mountain, canyons, dormant volcanoes, cultural and heritage sites, with hotels, residential complexes and commercial centres. The first phase is due to open in 2022.
WTM London Senior Director Simon Press said: “Even after 40 years, we are still able to pull in new exhibitors to our event. This proves not only how important WTM London is on the global travel stage but also that the travel industry is continuously evolving and adapting.”