WTM - what is it all about
With a longstanding history for showcasing the very best and finest the world has to offer, World Travel Market is all about teasing visitors and prospective travellers with slices of some of the world’s most beautiful corners. Back for another edition this November, the three-day event celebrated all things wonderful and colourful in the world’s most intriguing, stunning and thought-provoking nations. Once again, The Holiday Place was there to lap it all up, learn about exciting developments in the world travel industry, say hello to old partners, strengthen ties and form new bonds.
There were so many to choose from, and so many of these were so strikingly eye-catching and alluring in their unique ways that it was hard to pick a top five. Still, here I lay out some of my favourite WTM 2016 stands. Taking the big centre stage is Qatar’s with its large platform and screens projecting images of its heritage and modern-day present. The lighting alone was enticing. Then we have other strong contenders like Cuba with evocative images and music, the bright, vivid screens in Dominican Republic’s platform, Botswana with its ultra-large wild nature posters and the Arabian fortress-like edification of Oman’s stand. They all made for sights you simply had to stop and stare at.
Beyond my favourite stands there were others that due to their brightly coloured arrays and layouts you simply couldn’t help but take a minute or two to let it all sink in. From Vietnam’s twinkly traditional lanterns hanging at different heights like a progressive curtain to one of Thailand’s famous Tuk Tuk vehicles overloaded with all manner of knick-knacks and handcrafted wares to Costa Rica’s dense rainforest jungle flanked by two life-size (well, actually, larger than that) he-and-she dolls dressed in traditional costumes. Oh, and in case you missed it (as if!) there was also Panama, where a lady clad in full carnival costume with an arresting headpiece stole the show.
More inspiring than the colourful costumes they often proudly wore, were the visible details of ancient native cultures whose ways of life and traditions have little changed over the years and which they brought to life at WTM. Paying homage to their roots and giving visitors a glimpse of what they themselves could encounter I spotted human props dressed in native attire, from sari-clad Indian dancers to an expert Cuban cigar hand-roller working at his craft and a Fiji representative in a national dress with a rugby ball in hand. Lower down we have a group of Bahrain musicians performing and a group of indigenous Mexicans exhibiting colourful robes and body paint. Right at the centre a group of drummers and traditional Sri Lanka dancers knew how to put on quite a show!
Our Partners - Tourism Boards
Of course, beyond trying out food delicacies at stands and perusing lovely set-ups, we also devoted much of our time to networking and engaging in lively exchanges with our partners. We caught up with Tinaz Wadia from the Seychelles Tourist Board, Sandra Kwan and Lesley Wright from Macao. Next up, we have our team trio sitting next to Asma Al Hajry and Lesley Davidson from Oman while the two centre pictures are taken over by Catherine Lamri from the Dubai Tourist Board and Alejandro Grageda from the Mexico Tourist Board. Down in the bottom we have Cedric Lynch and Mar McCollin representing Barbados, Adalberto Rodriguez Falls and Alejandro Castro from Costa Rica and Torrance Lewis from Jamaica.
We’ve got more of our partners’ photocall in this section, and this time I’m devoting space to representatives from hotels and resorts, who we also took time off their busy WTM agendas for some meet and greet sessions with us. On the top pictures, we have Lauren McKeever and Rosie Watts from Group Promotions, with Jackie Bookal from the St Lucia Tourist Board standing behind them. Next up, two of our team members engage in a group hug with Ronald Ortega and Marcos Crespo from the CRT Team Costa Rica. In the centre row, first up we have Anucha Jungjai from the Buri Rasa Group in Thailand, followed by Tracey Dyson from Hard Rock Hotels and Mac Campbell from Rex Resorts. In the bottom section, we first have a lovely girl trio from Sandals: Rosie Leckenby, Jane Bolton and Nikki Kelly, followed by Anastasia Chrysidou representing AMResorts.
And it all ends with a party
This very last section sums up WTM 2016’s artistic and theatrical flair. Although I didn’t manage to make it to all the stands in time to catch a special musical, vocal or dancing performance I did manage to come across a few, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Several stands had various forms of entertainment going on, from competitions to freshly served food treats and lively performances. The big image shows the Incredible India stand (which were official WTM sponsors for this 2016 edition) caught in the midst of a Bollywood-style dance performance. You can see how they drew in the crowds and managed to get half of the exhibition hall dancing.