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WTM London Is Open: Liberating or Scary?

WTM London
WTM London

World Travel Market is open; the World of Tourism is meeting in London – and it’s a happy meeting so far.

  • According to estimates released by the World Travel Market (WTM), exhibitors from more than 100 countries confirmed, with buyers coming from 141 countries and regions to the ongoing trade show in London (November 1-3).
  • Two weeks ago, the World Tourism Network appealed on Reed, the organizer of WTM London, to mandate face masks.
  • World Travel Market promised safety for all participants was the highest priority.

Two weeks ago, WTN told eTurboNews and posted on its website: “We strongly recommend that you wear a face mask when you are in indoor spaces with individuals that you would not normally mix with.”

The World Tourism Network was urging WTM weeks ago to go a step further and mandate mask wearing for everyone.

Today, the doors at Excel Exhibition Center in London opened at 10:00 am on November 1 for World of Tourism to come together, to shake hands again, and hug each other.

Masks were under extreme low demand, and almost everyone working or attending the venue, including restaurant staff, did not attempt to wear a mask.

November 1 was also the day the English Government relaxed requirements, ironically at a day where other reports say intensive care beds are once again almost not available and COVID-19 numbers were going up.

Cases, active cases, hospitalizations, and death rates are climbing in the UK, but event venues like Excel, bars, and night clubs are open and people feel liberated.

It was this liberating feeling that carried through at the World Travel Market in London today. Travel and tourism is a big family, and you saw tears, and the human touch was back when old friends met each other again after 2 years of COVID restrictions.

WTM checked vaccination records for everyone entering the exhibition center, but is this enough? Most new hospitalizations seem to be by fully vaccinated people.

World Travel Market is quieter, there are a lot more open spaces and sitting areas, and even though it’s packed when in line for coffee, it means participants were able to spread out in the exhibitions halls.

Staff – no mask
Hon. Edmund Bartlett getting ready for an interview with CNN Richard Quest
Costa Coffee hand sanitizer not working
Thailand Press Conference

Stand designs were smaller, but spacing on stands did not change much. There are noticeably fewer exhibitors and visitors attending. Saudi Arabia of course showed power in showcasing a spectacular stand at the Pavillion. Saudi Arabia is the official event partner for WTM.

If WTN can demonstrate in two weeks, no new cases emerged out of the no mask, no social distancing policy, it will mean a new chapter for future events in Britain and the meeting and incentive industry elsewhere was established.

eTurboNews will be exhibiting at IMEX America, the Meeting and Incentive Trade Show in Las Vegas November 8-11.

eTurboNews is also an official media partner for World Travel Market London.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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