Want to see the world in one place? Then London has to be your destination for the World Travel Market, the gathering of travel and tourism industry folk showcasing their countries and attractions.
Among the 200 new exhibitors at this year’s event is Albania, which is hoping people will broaden their horizons beyond Italy or Croatia when they think of the Adriatic Coast.
“We are really trying to get the best investment to develop a sustainable tourism in my country. At the same time, different media representatives consider Albania as a new Croatia in the Balkans,“said Eglantina Gjermeni, the Albanian Minister for Urban Development and Tourism.
With Ebola in the headlines, Africa could be a hard sell at the World Travel Market, but tourism representatives from the continent, such as Ghana's Tourism Minister Elizabeth Ofusu-Agyare, point out its size and their vigilance.
“West Africa is big. West Africa is not like one city. West Africa is so huge, Ghana is free of Ebola. Ghana has not recorded any incidents of Ebola and we are not complacent. At our airports we have put measures to make sure that if you have symptoms of Ebola you will not enter the country,” said Ofusu-Agyare.
For many governments, tourism represents a major revenue stream, which is why they are at the World Travel Market and investing in the sector as Ecuador's Tourism Minister Sandra Naranjo told us: “We are trying to make tourism the second source of income in our country and it is very important in the transition towards a non-oil economy. Just to give you a quick number: we are investing 10 times more than in 2006, and so we are really working together with the private sector, and the public sector, because we think that tourism is the future of our country.
And it is big business, with 2.8 billion euros of deals done last year by the travel industry professionals who attended.
Sebastian Saam, the euronews correspondent at the event reports: “Proof of the relevance of the tourism sector comes from the fact that more than 160 countries are showcasing their national travel industries at London’s World Travel Market. An ever-growing number of exhibitors are working on innovative presentations to convince the 50,000 visitors of the attractions of their destination.”