The credit crunch has seemed to be something of a theme for the better part of the last few months, and although its familiarity has been with us through a hike in prices, panic buying and oscillating interest rates; this hasn’t so much deterred the global trotting public.
Recently I was asked to attend the World Travel Market at the ExCel London, what I thought would be an easy thing to write about has not been quite so but one always tries. Until my invitation and I say this with shame, I hadn’t heard of the ExCel London and the World Travel Market…shows there is always something new out there.
The ExCel London is an exhibition and conference centre situated in the Docklands that is home to several national and international events.
The World Travel Market seems to have delivered an exotic and intriguing exhibition bringing together people from various parts of the world within the tourism industry and also providing several features to enhance the visitors’ experience. The World Travel Market was an event that was running from the 10th-13th November; among its aims was the promotion of responsible tourism enhancing the need for tourism to go ‘green’ in its policies and ways of work aimed at reducing negative environmental, social and cultural effects that impacted on local and international communities. Fiona Jeffery, chairman of world Travel Market commented, “Businesses suffer from the misconception that responsible tourism strategies can mean taking a hit on profits. In fact, if responsible tourism activity is integrated with a well orchestrated business plan, it can have a positive impact on overall performance and has resulted in some highly successful businesses reaping the benefits of responsible tourism.”
“Yet other organisations misguidedly turn their backs on responsible tourism because they simply do not understand that it can filter down to triple bottom line of economic as well as social and environmental concerns. A clear signal has now gone out to the world that responsible tourism must be at the top of the agenda, but this definitely does not mean the industry has to forego profits,” explained Jeffrey.
The World Travel Market media bulletin cited that the credit crunch has affected plans for the 2012 Summer Olympics games site in London, United Kingdom. It also went on to mention that Lend Lease, which won the tender to build the Olympic village at Stratford has failed to raise US$778 million of private funding towards the total US$1.73 billion cost of construction. However the news is not all in vain for the United Kingdom (UK), the first eight months of 2008 saw a 2% increase in visitor arrivals to the UK, according to figures from the International government’s international passenger Survey.
It then comes as no surprise that the tourism industry is being boosted by the US elections 2008 that saw the win of President elect, Obama. Trips are being booked to Indonesia, Kenya, Japan and the United states, revealed World Travel Market’s media bulletin at ExCel London. The Illinois Bureau of Tourism is planning three-day getaways featuring Obama sites, including the Hyde Park area where he lives; the package will be available from 20th January 2009. Jakarta in Indonesia has received interest as Obama attended school there. The Kenyan stand was displaying a giant picture of the President elect, Obama and was distributing Obama Pins. And there is a place in Japan called ‘Obama,’ a port city which is experiencing a growing interest by travellers.
I visited the Ugandan stand, I had to that is where I come from, that aside, Uganda also known as the ‘Pearl of Africa,’ is often recognised through its past associations with its former President Iddi Amin (RIP), there is more to the country than that, it is located in East Africa on the equator and has a lot of wild life such as chimpanzees, green scenery, lakes and is the source of the river Nile, the longest river in Africa.
Marketing Manager of Amazing Safaris, Abel Katembwe, a tour operator in Uganda offers tour packages to visitors in Uganda and takes them to the various safaris and national parks to see the wildlife and mountains such as Rwenzori (Mountains of the moon).
Edwin Muzahura, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for the Uganda tourism Board said that, “The presence of Uganda at the World Travel Market was an effort to market Uganda among tour operators, travel agents and airlines especially the ones operating in other parts of Africa like South Africa and Kenya to encourage them to set up operations in Uganda.” Muzahura went on to add, “ There have been many successes, Uganda is a beautiful country, has a great weather and beautiful animals and I will undertake an evaluation of our presence at the exhibition and what the private sector has achieved here today.”
Perhaps another intriguing moment was speaking to Kevin, a representative of Blue Train, a luxury rail cruise and icon of South African tourism. He informed me that Blue Train mainly runs in Cape Town and Pretoria. The Blue train prides itself in fine cuisine of meals and South Africa’s fine wines are available. The on board experience is complimented by scenic landscape as the train meanders across the southern-most part of the African continent. Blue Train is based in the United Kingdom but mainly sells tour packages to tour agents who the sell to the public.
I attended one day of the World Travel Market event, 12th November and I had an enlightening and wonderful experience; from the stalls of Abu Dhabi showcasing their preparation of the F1 races for 2009 to the more sublime stall of Rwanda showcasing beautiful girls gyrating to Rwandese music, new technologies such as paperless boarding passes starting out in the US in 2009 and British Airways giving its passengers options to select their seats from their PDA or web enabled mobile phone. The list is endless but the event was overwhelming and perhaps next year…you too dear reader could visit…