North & Central America
The upper Americas are two fascinating subcontinents with as much variety as you can get in a single time zone (well, actually two). We start off with North America at the top, sleek and chic New York first, followed by the Wild Wild West with some Texan flavour before we continue with Mexico at the bottom left, proudly showcasing its Mayan pyramids and other images in a mega large screen. Last but not least, we have Costa Rica with its multi-coloured, multi-layered, eco-friendly appeal – here I chose to show its eye-catching arts and crafts with an artist hand-painting an ornate umbrella.
As we keep heading South, sights get even more varied and vibrantly colourful, with a kaleidoscope of flavours, textures, music and dancing. At the top, we have two individuals fully clad in feather-full and flamboyant Bolivian costumes, followed by a wide-smiling Brazilian lady proudly depicting national heritage through her clothes and headpiece, while next to her, a band strikes up the traditional samba sounds of Brazil. Below it, we have an ornate flower display introducing us to Medellín, one of Colombia’s most amazing destinations and a famous coffee growing region, presented by a parrot-carrying, somewhat whimsical-looking gentleman in a top hap and a traditionally dressed lady. Lastly, the two bottom pictures showcase the best of Ecuador - locally-grown, intense chocolate and quirky characters.
Representing the place of eternal sunshine and endless beaches, The Caribbean is next with some of its most alluring destinations. First up there’s the Dominican Republic’s large stand with its evocative screen pictures showing off its great and diverse natural beauty. Then there’s Barbados, making the most of its picturesque appeal with a bright building representative of its enchanting architecture and a multi-sign post pointing to its main attractions. Little needs to be said about Jamaica’s full-size beach photos while Trinidad and Tobago get down to business with some music and dancing. All great fun as can be seen by the “liming” couple.
OK, so technically, Cuba is part of the Caribbean, but given the size of its colourful stand and the fact that it’s our number one destination make it deserving of extra special attention. Oh, and there’s also the fact that, as with most previous editions, they keep top quality Havana Club rum free-flowing for all visitors to taste – an attraction that remains as popular as ever among WTM guests. That and the expert cigar roller sitting at his cigar-rolling station and crafting some of the world’s finest cigars before everyone’s eyes – many queue up to take one of these unique handmade originals gifts home!
What interested me most about the African continent this year were the stands of South Africa and Gambia. South Africa’s oval shaped stand showed some of the many sides to this multi-faceted region while Gambia made the most of its vibrant culture and heritage with vivid photographs and ladies dressed head-to-toe in beautiful, colourful, traditional tunics and headgear.
The Middle East
Deeply traditional and richly coloured, the Middle East has plenty to fascinate travellers with and here are the countries that caught my eye this year. Dubai’s station stood out for its elaborate model of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower while next to it we have a picture of a traditional Omani tea ceremony accompanied by sweets. Then there’s that image of Qatar, represented by a real live falcon as it’s one destination that’s famous for its falcon-rearing and training. Down below we have two images of Abu Dhabi’s stand, in one I captured men performing traditional stick dancing while in the other I shot dune buggy used in desert rides.
India & The Indian Ocean
Mystical, mesmerising and simply unforgettable, India dazzled with its bright colours. My first image shows a lady performing Indian dance alongside a visually stunning stand of Karnataka in a forested look complete with tree next to a gigantic screen showing glimpses of the verdant Madhya Pradesh region. Right at the centre we have a couple in traditional Indian and Nepali costumes while the bottom two pictures are from the Sri Lankan stand – in one we see a group of traditional dancers and a wedding couple in the other.
Asia & Pacific
Wondrous Asia and the Pacific Ocean lift our mood with their sometimes extravagant costumes and melodies, as is the case with the two performing musicians playing traditional instruments from Kazakhstan. The centre shows China’s large stand with mini areas devoted to different regions while the last two bottom pictures showcase Japan’s cherry blossom beauty with flowing fabrics and two ladies dressed in beautiful kimonos.
Up first we have the pagoda-like stand of Thailand, as evocative as the two beautiful Thai Airlines ladies shown next to it – the embodiment of pure beauty and floral essence. In the middle captivating Indonesia steals the show with its ornately dressed ladies performing various dances next to Miss Southeast Asia. The bottom section is devoted to Malaysia, with traditional costumes and musicians adding to the authenticity and local flavour of it all.