WTM London 2023 kicks off with a message

 Tuesday, November 7, 2023 


The first day of World Travel Market London 2023 saw a series of significant international meetings.

One of the highlights was the 17th annual World Travel Market London 2023 Ministers’ Summit, organized in partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The theme for this year’s summit was “Transforming Tourism Through Youth and Education,” with 40 representatives in attendance.

Natalia Bayona, the Executive Director of UNWTO, emphasized that tourism encompasses more than just hotel administration, pointing out that 80% of relevant degrees focus on this subject. The UK’s Sir John Whittingdale highlighted the potential for good social mobility within the travel industry, where individuals can start at the entry level and ascend to top positions, such as transitioning from a hotel receptionist to managing a group of hotels.

Promoting Sustainability and Seasonal Tourism

At the Discover Stage of World Travel Market London 2023 , various destinations showcased their sustainability efforts. The German National Tourist Office encourages tourists to stay longer to reduce their carbon footprint. Additionally, the tourist boards of Greece, Italy, Spain, and France revealed strategies to attract more holidaymakers during the shoulder and winter seasons, as well as to promote off-the-beaten-track destinations to alleviate pressure on popular hotspots. Spain, for instance, is focusing on “slow travel” and encouraging holidays by train.

Brazil’s Embratur highlighted Bonito, recognized as the world’s first carbon-neutral ecotourism destination, while Tourism Australia showcased the Discover Aboriginal Experiences collective. Visit California has adopted a “position of stewardship” to promote sustainable tourism practices.

Innovation and Start-Up Initiatives

InterLnkd was named the winner of the World Travel Market London 2023 Start-Up Pitch Battle, in partnership with Amadeus. InterLnkd’s platform connects travel and hospitality suppliers with fashion and beauty retailers, providing travelers with products relevant to their trips. This innovative approach creates a new revenue stream for the travel industry.

Supporting Neurodiversity in Travel

A session titled “Spotlighting Hidden Disabilities: Successful Strategies for Inclusive Travel” emphasized the importance of making travel more accessible to neurodivergent individuals. Neurodiversity Consultant Onyinye Udokporo highlighted the growing awareness of hidden disabilities, with 15-20% of the global population being neurodivergent. The session suggested practical changes, such as using easily readable fonts on signs, incorporating adjustable lighting, and offering weighted blankets to reduce anxiety.

Empowering Women in Travel

Former World Travel Market London 2023 Director Fiona OBE discussed her mission to encourage the travel and tourism industry to give back through initiatives like the clean water project, Just A Drop. The First Lady of Iceland, Eliza Reid, highlighted her country’s progress in closing the gender pay gap.

Future Plans of Destinations

Several destinations unveiled their plans for the future at World Travel Market London 2023 . The Balearic Islands will focus on sport and culture to extend the tourism season, with 40 low-season events planned, including a new triathlon in Ibiza. Greece is committed to a “new era in sustainability” and aims to disperse visitors across the country and extend the tourism season. This includes modernizing ski resorts, promoting Greece as a diving destination, improving marinas’ energy efficiency, and featuring local farm produce in hotel breakfast buffets.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030

Fahd Hamidaddin, the CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, presented the Vision 2030 tourism plan, which aims to address unemployment and transform the nation. The plan is expected to attract 100 million visitors in 2023, and Saudi Arabia has revised its target to 150 million visitors, with an investment of $800 billion by 2030. The country’s first Red Sea resort opened on November 1, with two more expected to open next year, covering a coastline of 1,700km.

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