|by Ian Mcintosh - Travel Agent Update - on location in London|
|Philippines stand was as creative as it was impressive|
Red was the dominant colour at this year's event as thousands of buyers and sellers proudly displayed a poppy on their lapel to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Great War.
Further proof of the impact this event will have on tourism in Europe next year started at the entrance where every delegate was handed a copy of the 24 page broadsheet style Flanders Fields Post. The fields still bear the scars of the battles, the post says "War cemeteries, memorials, museums, bunkers and trenches are silent witness to an atrocious past and in order to commemorate the centenary Flanders will host a wide variety of exhibitions, events and special re-enactments. More details, flandersfields1408.com
The Gallipoli Peninsula takes the number one spot for regions in Lonely Planet's Best In Travel 2015, highlighting the region as a must-see for the coming year in time for the centenary. According to a spokesman for the Turkish ministry of culture and tourism: The Gallipoli story gives us a powerful connection with the British, Australians and New Zealanders. There will be events throughout next year to remember Gallipoli but the pinnacle will take place on March and April.
Issues on the unofficial list included the plunging Aussie dollar, Ebola and Middle East unrest. It seems it is too early to estimate how business to Europe will be affected in 2015 but it was generally agreed that Australian travellers are very nervous. Growth in traffic to Europe via Asia rather than the Middle East might well be one result of that concern, I have been told.
According to Martyn Paterson, MD of Outdoor Travel Pty Ltd, based in Bright Victoria, the Ebola crisis is spreading fear amongst the European and UK travel industry with Americans already cancelling travel plans. On a happier note he reported a surprising increase in interest in cycling tours. "The future in travel is cycling and we have helped make that happen over the recent years," he added.
As always loads of reports were issued - the WTM Global Trends findings backing Martyn and pointing out that cycling is rivalling golf for the leisure time of middle aged men.
Other trends included:
Wearable electronics will become an important tool for always connected consumers to receive notifications and make bookings.
Travel and tourism continues to prosper with arrivals reaching a record 1.1 billion in 2013, up by 5.1 per cent. The growth this year is tipped to be 4.7 per cent.
Eating with locals is a travel idea rocketing in popularity in Europe as consumers search for more authentic experiences. eatwith.com which pairs travellers with cooks started in Spain and Israel and expanded to 21 cities in 12 months. See also Bookalokal.
In-destination services including meals are forecast to be one of the fastest growing areas in the industry in the next five years. Priceline bought Open Table and TripAdvisor grabbed La Fourchette, a European online restaurant res service.
The number of trips taken to the Middle East rose by 4.4 percent in 2013 and this trend is set to continue in the few remaining pockets of calm, mostly in the Gulf countries. Violence elsewhere is stifling performance.
In Asia growth continues to be driven by China where Wechat now has 440 million active users who can if they wish book travel.
Rail is the fastest growing sector in online travel in India and the Government is constantly improving the infrastructure for consumers and agents alike. Have a look at the IRCTC website.
Finally, the annual global survey of WTM exhibitors and buyers found that nearly one on five admitted their business had been affected by peer to peer websites. Accommodation sites in particular are gaining traction with UK consumers.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Etihad will launch services to Edinburgh on June 8 2015.
WOW Air, Iceland's low cost carrier will offer transatlantic flights to Boston and Washington from next year.
Moscow is becoming more visitor friendly new pedestrian zones, signage in English and a city card called PrimePass offering free access to city transport and museums. Seven new hotels will open this year. www.travel2moscow.com
British Airways will resume services from London to Kuala Lumpur from May 27, 2015. The carrier will not codeshare with MAS. A flow 0n in traffic to Australia and New Zealand is expected.
Next year will be the Malaysia Year of Festivals or MyFest 2015 for short. www.tourism.gov.my/en/uk
20th Century Fox will open a $300 million theme park in 2016 sited an hour from Kuala Lumpur.
There is no need to be clueless in the kasbah thanks to a new app for Marrakech created by Marrakech Riad. Download from iTunes. More details, www.marrakech-riad.co.uk.
The UK remains Australia's most valuable leisure market in terms of total spend and visitor nights.
Garuda introduced its direct service from Jakarta to Gatwick via Amsterdam using a Boeing 777 on September 8.
The Cross Egypt challenge will start from Alexandria on November 14. Motorbikes and scooters will cross 3000km via luxor before finishing in Cairo. www.crossegyptchallenge.com
Just how Turkey will fare in 2015 considering a battle is raging on its borders is anyone's guess - but the country is ranked sixth in terms of the number of tourists by the WTO. In 2013 the country welcomed 37.8 million visitors - an increase of 5.9 per cent.
The Egyptian minister of tourism has revealed plans to offer incentives to tour operators and airlines to boost tourism.
The Philippines has declared 2015 Visit the Philippines Year and is hoping for 10 million arrivals.