World Travel Market - WTM 2018
Another year, another gloriously exuberant edition of the World Travel Market in London and another great opportunity for The Holiday Place to get stuck in its celebration, do a bit of networking with travel partners, solidify our position with a variety of destinations and just generally be part of all the cultural immersion and merriment. And also another brilliant chance for me to get my camera out and snap away at the colourful paraphernalia, the theatrical costumes and performance antics that are all part of the show.
If there’s one thing that dominates over the World Travel Market’s annual fair’s layout that is the often impressive, sometimes truly magnificent stands, with some changing yearly, others given new features or upgrades with every new edition while some remain just the same as in previous years (perhaps due to their past popularity). But when every destination competes against each other to get the most looks and attract the most visitors, every detail counts.
Above, up on the left, we have Sharjah’s peculiar stand, which I liked for its authentic feel and Arabic design. Next to it, on the right, is Egypt’s large stand with two giant screens displaying changing images of the desert, coral reefs and other attractions while a gold wire frame shaped like a pharaoh was synced to a tablet showing how the statue looked like in real life.
In the middle we have the Dominican Republic’s stand which remains pretty much as it was last year design-wise yet this year included a new feature in the form of a semi-transparent screen with a waterfall. Thailand’s stand at the bottom left looked as immaculate and elegant as always while Indonesia’s one (pictured in the middle next to it) was really eye-catching given its big boat shape. Last but not least (at the bottom middle) was Florida’s original stand, framed by a giant green leaf wall dotted with oranges and a bar that, as you can see, was packed to the brim.
Here are some of my favourite displays at WTM 2018. First up, on the left corner is Guatemala with its colourful hand-woven hanging fabrics and earthy wooden panels, on which evocative images of the country were projected. Next to it, on the left is a picture of Kerala’s attention-grabbing display, with a booth shaped like a boat house and a bright screen showcasing the Indian region’s famous backwaters.
In the middle you’ll find Costa Rica’s stand, truly capturing the country’s essence by recreating its lush rainforests, quaint and atmospheric cafes as well as its sensational home-grown coffee, which, by the way was served at the bar - a real plus and just what you need as a quick pick-me-up (after hours on your feet walking around the fair). On the bottom left is the display of one of my dream destinations - heavenly Maldives - I liked its simple but evocative set with flowers, a little traditional boat and beautiful background image. On the bottom right, Fiji’s charming corner display took me away with its hut, palm leaves and beckoning slogan. It all made me wish that my paradise island dreams came true.
As usual, there were some great, often flashy costumes on display at WTM, paying homage to some destinations’ unique heritage and culture and thus making the experience all the more immersive. Up at the top, on the left corner we can see none other than Batman himself, giving viewers a sneak peek of the kind of superhero fun that awaits them at Abu Dhabi’s newly opened Warner Bros. World theme park. Next to him, up in the middle we have a quintet of people donning traditional Sri Lankan costumes while up on the right a solitary figure wears a full carnival costume from the Dominican Republic.
Showing big in the centre we have Mexico’s famous Day of the Dead perfectly embodied by a lady and gentleman with “La Catrina” face paints. He wears traditional mariachi attire complete with broad-brimmed “sombrero” while her colourful dress evokes everything Mexican. Down on the bottom left, a quartet of Vietnamese ladies wearing customary dresses and conical “non la” hats smile sweetly while the bottom right picture shows us the beauty and brightness of Malaysia’s red and yellow he&she costumes.
Caribbean & Cuban Connection
And last but not least, my last section is devoted to some of our oldest destinations and partners - the always sunny Caribbean, including our very special connection with Cuba, an island that we at The Holiday Place have been working closely with for over 25 years.
Up on top we have a trio of Caribbean gems: vibrant Jamaica, laidback Antigua and enchanting Barbados, all beckoning with beautiful images of their pristine beaches and glittering, crystalline waters. In the middle and bottom pictures, Cuba’s stand is shown capturing its main highlights. From Havana Club rum served at several intervals throughout the day to the usual hand-rolling of cigars show; the stand doesn’t disappoint as it showcases some of the island’s best-known assets. As for its infectious music and contagious salsa-dancing, this time I missed the live spectacle but next year I’ll make sure not to!