Get more from World Travel Market with Katie McGonagle's whistlestop guide to the exhibitors
Phileas Fogg did it in 80 days, but visitors to World Travel Market get to circumnavigate the globe – metaphorically, at least – in just four.
Where else can you step from colourful Colombian palenqueras and costume-clad Malaysian dancers to Caribbean carnival-goers and Las Vegas showgirls, all in one (admittedly, rather large) room?
Or wander between Arabian falconers, international sporting heroes and American blues singers, each bringing a bit of their homeland to the cavernous halls of the ExCeL centre? And that’s before you even start munching through all the amazing food and drink from around the globe.
The incredible array of exhibitors can be overwhelming, so get a steer on where to start with our guide to what’s on show.
The Caribbean region is a hive of activity at any time, but turn up on Wednesday – travel agents’ training day – and it’ll be busier than ever. The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CA265) officially launches its Travel Uni training programme, followed by an afternoon treasure hunt around the Caribbean Village and a jumpin’ street party until 8pm.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (CA340) will liven up its training presentations with rum punch during cocktail hours from 3pm-4pm on Wednesday and Thursday. The Saint Lucia Tourist Board (CA200) is also hoping chocolate and rum tastings at 11am on Thursday will attract agents to hear about the island’s first triathlon.
While Saint Lucia’s Jade Mountain resort last year hosted The X Factor, this year that honour went to St James Club Antigua, which is why Elite Island Resorts (CA230) is offering agents the chance to recreate that celebrity style on a seven-night stay, as they drop by to hear about its updated Interline by Elite site, discounted agent rates and new swimming workshops with Olympic gold medallist Becky Adlington.
Sports stars are always a crowd-pleaser, so Antigua and Barbuda (CA220) is hosting cricketer Sir Viv Richards, while the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board (CA240) welcomes footballer Dwight Yorke, cricketer Brian Lara (left), plus EastEnders actor Rudolph Walker, all of whom hail from the twin islands.
Agents can pose with them or with a carnival dancer, then get a chance to win a place on a 2014 mega-fam to Tobago, either by leaving their business card or via an incentive offering a guaranteed place to any agent making four or more bookings between April 2013-March 2014.
Trade favourite Sandals Resorts is also hosting a series of invitation-only agent meals on-board chairman Butch Stewart’s own luxury yacht to spread the word about its new Barbados resorts and recently-opened Grenada property.
Brand USA (NA230-2) continues to reinvigorate trade relations by offering goodies to agents who enrol in the new USA Discovery Program at the show, plus a shot at a spot on the 2014 mega-fam by uploading photos taken on any US fam trip this year to famphotosusa.co.uk.
Photos are also key for the Colorado Tourist Office (NA230L): agents visiting the stand can dress up as cowboys and cowgirls and upload photos to Facebook, with the best-dressed winning a Nikon compact digital camera.
Highlighting a different, though equally well-known, American icon, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB (part of Visit Florida, NA300) is featuring its own on-stand Barbie from 12pm-4pm on Tuesday, to celebrate the new Barbie Dreamhouse Experience at Sawgrass Mills outlet shopping centre.
It’s back to the blues for first-time attendees Rhythms of the South, comprising Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans, which is flying over two singers to provide southern soul at stand NA230G from 5pm on Monday.
While you listen, grab a glass of wine courtesy of Visit California’s wine receptions from 4pm-6pm on Monday and Tuesday (NA140), where they’ll talk about a new television advertising campaign launching on Boxing Day. Agents signing up for online training at the stand could even win a case of Californian vino.
Don’t miss the new sports-themed guide for the UK market from Great Lakes USA (NA230J), or Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority (NA150) which will be shouting about two new luxury hotels on The Strip and Britney Spears’ upcoming residency at Planet Hollywood.
North of the border, the Canadian Tourism Commission (NA100) is bringing fresh faces this year with new Niagara river boat operator Hornblower Tours, soon-to-open Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, and Quebec Hotel Quintessence.
South of the States, Mexico’s Cancun (LA400) knows how to draw the crowds with prizes on offer on three days. Turn up at the stand on Tuesday for a chance to win a five-night stay, one of three whale shark toys on Wednesday and a bottle of tequila on Thursday.
Bringing even more colour – and authentic Colombian coffee – Proexport Colombia (LA550) will be surrounded by palenqueras (left), tropical fruit-sellers from the Colombian town of Palenque, and actors telling folk tales.
Also providing light relief, Falkland Islands mascot Stanley the Penguin will be at stand LA320, as the tourist board introduces trade-friendly initiatives, including a star rating system for accommo-dation and incentive programme for agents.
UK AND EUROPE
The View from the Shard (UKI209) invites the trade to sample high-end hospitality with a tasting of its branded champagne at 5pm on Tuesday.
Then from the tallest UK attraction to the smallest, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (L205) is bringing the world’s smallest road legal car plus miniature exhibits, including detailed matchbook art and tiny gum wrapper sculptures; see even more with 50% off entry during WTM.
Flanders (EM1200) will introduce the destination’s First World War commemorations, along with stellar Flemish cuisine including beers, cheeses and an artisan chocolate shop.
The Netherlands Board of Tourism (EM300) is similarly picking up on a wartime theme by opening the Liberation Route Europe next year.
Lithuania (EM570) will be attracting visitors with a business card draw to win £25 vouchers as it reveals its new agent training programme and a social media campaign. The prizes get even bigger with the German National Tourist Office (EM540), which is promoting its new Royal Heritage Route with a chance to win a two-night Christmas Market break for two to the medieval town of Erfurt, including rail transfers, four star accommodation and return flights to Frankfurt departing December 20.
Unsurprisingly, it’s all about good food at the Mediterranean stands: TAP Portugal (EM900) will serve up local wines from 4pm-6pm on Tuesday to promote its increased Manchester-Lisbon services, now 10 per week, plus new Brazilian destinations Manaus and Belem. Malta Tourism Authority (EM1150) has flown celebrated chef George Borg from Gozo to cook up traditional treats and serve local limoncello, while the Greek National Tourist Office (EM1000, EM1050) will have cooking shows and Santorini-inspired cuisine each day from 12.30pm-2.30pm.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
On-stand competitions don’t get better than Qatar Tourism Authority’s chance to win a four-night stay at the Grand Hyatt, Doha, plus two Qatar Airways flights and activities from Qatar International Adventures. Even those who miss out could still take home one of 40 sets of pearl earrings or 25 pairs of V&A exhibition tickets, so make a point of visiting ME100 to find out more.
Dubai Tourism (ME200) will be showcasing its ancient arts of henna, calligraphy and falconry, plus agents who bring completed Dubai Expert certificates will go into a draw to win a packed goodie bag or a 2014 fam trip.
Also offering an educational place is neighbouring emirate Sharjah Tourism (ME400), which wants to update agents on Sir Bu Nuair Island and new hotels the Chedi and Al Bait, both opening in 2014.
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (ME300) will virtually transport visitors to Yas Island via a fun photo booth, while Oman Ministry of Tourism (ME500) looks to capitalise on a predicted 15% growth in UK visitor numbers by promoting its birding, sailing and diving holidays.
Niche markets are also key for Kenya Tourism Board (AF450) as it prepares for next year’s 50th anniversary of independence – find out more over a traditional dawa cocktail on Tuesday or Wednesday. South African Tourism (AF300), meanwhile, will be engaging eyes, ears and taste buds with a fashion show at 3.30pm on Tuesday, silent disco until 6pm, then from 4.30pm-6pm on Wednesday, cooking bunny chow, the KwaZulu-Natal dish of a hollowed-out loaf filled with curry, plus hotdog-style boerewors rolls.
ASIA AND AUSTRALASIA
Flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia (AS760) will give visitors the chance to test its new First Class seats with a drink at 4pm on Tuesday – or you can sample Thai Airways’ service for real by winning a pair of return flights to Bangkok (AS335).
Taiwan Tourism Bureau (AS450) takes this a step further with two incredible holidays to give away during its 4pm-6pm happy hour on Tuesday.
If all this stand-hopping gets too tiring, calm down with a tea ceremony at the Korea Tourism Organization (AS550), or try the hand massage machines promoting its wellbeing holidays.
Don’t rest too long, though: Tourism New Zealand (AS355) will be showing agents how to turn The Hobbit effect into real bookings, having seen nearly one in 10 visitors citing the film as a reason for their visit, as well as showcasing its luxury offering at A Taste of ILTM at WTM.
Even if you can’t make it to WTM to hear about new resort openings from Samoa Tourism Authority (South Pacific Tourism Organisation stand, AS265), you can still take advantage of its agent incentive: book any holiday to Samoa before December 31 and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a five-night stay and flights from Australia or New Zealand. To enter, email booking confirmations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing the same stand, Tahiti Tourisme will be getting to know agents over a drinks reception, 4pm-5pm on Tuesday, while Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority aims to put agents in touch with its new London office to help them book cultural breaks and cruises.
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