- Today, November 1, was the opening of the World Travel Market in London at the Excel Exhibition Center.
- It was also the first time members of the World Tourism Network met in person after hundreds of zoom meetings during COVID-19.
- This was also the day some of the Tourism Heroes awarded by World Tourism Network met in London at WTN to receive their award certificates.
“There are hundreds of thousands of Tourism Heroes,” said World Tourism Network Chairman, Juergen Steinmetz, today, “in honoring all those heroes that kept our travel and tourism industry going through COVID-19. We call them anonymous heroes. They are everywhere. Some of them we see, we know about, and we can recognize. This is what we’re doing today.”
The World Tourism Network (WTN) was established in December 2020, after 9 months of rebuilding.travel discussions were organized by Juergen Steinmetz, publisher of eTurboNews.
The rebuilding travel discussion started on the sidelines of a canceled ITB Berlin in March 2020 together with PATA, the Nepal Tourism Board, eTurboNews, and the African Tourism Board.
Today, WTN has members in the public or private sector of tourism in 128 countries.
A year ago, WTN established the International Hall of Tourism Heroes. This was to recognize those that went the extra step to lead this industry through the COVID-19 crisis.
The first four Heroes awarded were the Hon. Najib Balala, Secretary of Tourism for Kenya; Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism Jamaica; Dr. Taleb Rifai, former UNWTO Secretary General; and Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA.
Today, heroes met for the first time and were hosted by Magical Kenya at the World Travel Market in London.
It was a special day for personal and new zoom friends to meet in person. Many attending WTM and members of WTN showed up, shaking hands for the first time. It was an emotional moment for some.
Certificates were presented to Tourism Heroes attending today or being represented, including Michel Nahon from France, Aleksandra Gardasevic from Montenegro, Professor Geoffrey Lipman of SunX in Belgium, and Agnes Muchuha of Kenya.
Two new proud heroes were recognized today at WTM.
It was the first day as the new CEO for Barbados Tourism for Jens Thraenhart. He was accommodated by the Hon. Minister of Tourism for Barbados, the Hon. Lisa Cummins, and the head of Barbados Tourism. It was also the day he was represented with the Hero Award for his amazing achievements, including his time as the Mekong Tourism Organization Chairman he left last month.
The second new hero awarded today was Dov Kalmann, Israel. He was the first member of the rebuilding.travel discussion and was instrumental at the first meeting of the organization in Berlin, Germany, in March 2020. Dov represents the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Israel.
The Host, Hon. Najib Balala, thanked the World Tourism Network and Juergen Steinmetz for the role this organization and Juergen have played in tourism recovery.
This was echoed by Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica, who is also the person behind the tourism resilience discussion in the Caribbean.