WTM kicks off in London with 1.1 million meetings; report explores latest trends
Photo courtesy of WTM.

WTM kicks off in London with 1.1 million meetings; report explores latest trends

LONDON — World Travel Market (WTM), a leading global event for the travel industry, kicked off this week in London, England, and is expected to facilitate more than 1.1 million on-stand business meetings, generate more than $5 billion in industry deals and welcome more than 32,000 participants over the next four days.

In conjunction with the event, WTM released the World Travel Market 2015 Industry Report based on the findings of a survey of over 2,000 show participants and more than 1,000 U.K. holidaymakers.

The report finds that industry professionals are quite optimistic going into 2016 with 79% saying the tourism industry will grow in 2016.

Emerging destinations were identified as China, Mexico and Iran. 51% of U.K. holiday makers are interested in visiting China.  Mexico, a long-time favourite for Canadians, was also identified as an emerging destination, plus Iran was noted as increasingly popular as improved relations with the West open up more tourism.

The WTM 2015 Industry Report notes a growing trend among some destinations considering caps on tourism numbers to protect the local culture and environment. Barcelona, Machu Picchu and Venice already have such policies in place, while cities like Paris and Berlin are taking them under consideration.

In the aviation sector, travel industry professionals are expecting that no-frills long haul service will take off with newly announced WOW air service from Canada to the U.K. being a perfect example.

Cheaper fuel prices and more efficient aircraft are supporting the trend towards no-frills long-haul; however, the experience of Norwegian and Asia-X, both of which withdrew routes to Europe due to financial losses, suggests that the business model remains tricky.

WiFi service is expected on airplanes with several carriers already testing the technology and allowing the use of headsets. This may create some issues because while half of passengers support WiFi access, they are against passengers using it to make calls on apps such as WhatsApp and FaceTime.

U.K. holidaymakers consider affordability the most important factor when booking a trip, followed by weather and terrorists threats. 61% of people who took a ‘staycation’ this year did so out of fear of terrorism. The incident in Tunisia where 30 British tourists were killed in 2015 has impacted perceptions of terrorism threats.

Turkey has seen a drop in tourism of 7-8% this year because of regional instability, whereas other Mediterranean countries like Spain, Croatia and Italy seem to be picking up the slack. Tourism to Greece is up 20%.

The report also reveals that only 3% of holidaymakers have used a peer-to-peer booking service such as Airbnb, although 93% who used the service would use it again.