The World Travel Market (WTM) and Travel Forward shows are going digital only this year, and will take place on 9-11 November as ‘WTM Virtual’.
The live shows organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions had been set to take place at ExCeL London 2-4 November 2020. However, organisers say the continuing travel restrictions, imposition of quarantine requirements and local lockdowns across Europe has meant that the events will be “fully virtual experiences” only.
WTM London’s senior director Simon Press said: “Sadly, this year will be the first time since we launched WTM London in 1980 that there will be no live event.
“We have worked tirelessly to organise a physical show, but the increasing number of travel restrictions and the uncertainty around the world means it will be impractical for many overseas visitors to attend in person.
“Additionally, there remains uncertainty around business events and conferences being allowed to take place in the UK. The official deadline for this decision being the 1 October.
“However, thousands of travel trade professionals from around the globe will still be able to meet and do business in an extensive range of virtual sessions, to help the industry recover, rebuild and innovate.”
WTM Virtual will offer delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one online meetings to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more.
The virtual show will also see an investment summit in partnership with ITIC – International Tourism & Investment Conference – and a new Marketing Forum and masterclass workshop in partnership with The Five Percent.
The WTM Virtual will have four virtual theatres to host webinars and debates, including the Responsible Tourism.
Furthermore, a digital version of Travel Forward is being shaped up and will combine online exhibition, free digital conference sessions and speed networking for start-ups to meet investors.
With the theme ‘Resilience, Innovation, Response’, Travel Forward Virtual will add a technology-based approach in supporting the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.
Richard Gayle, event manager for Travel Forward said: “Travel Forward is the event that embraces fresh concepts and innovative projects to inspire delegates. This year, running Travel Forward virtually will allow us to connect even more with global travel tech companies wanting to promote themselves to the world.
“We are confident Travel Forward Virtual will offer delegates all the support and ideas about how the industry recovery and more solutions to overcome the biggest challenges facing the travel industry.”
London Travel Week will be held online in the week leading up to WTM Virtual and there will be six Speed Networking sessions on offer so that exhibitors, brands and destinations can meet before the virtual show and form business connections.
London Travel Week will also provide a forum to celebrate the achievements of those in the travel and tourism industry through virtual awards ceremonies such as the World Travel Leaders’ Awards and the Responsible Tourism Awards.
The week will also see summits on Wellness, BAME Tourism, LGBT Tourism as well as Destination Briefings and Press Conferences allowing countries and brands to showcase their activities in the last few months to recover, rebuild and innovate.
The UNWTO, WTTC & WTM Ministers’ Summit will gather tourism ministers and the private sector with a mixture of live and virtual events to set out a roadmap for a safer, greener and smarter future for the sector.
Simon Press concluded: “We made the decision to transition to a virtual-only event after a great deal of consultation with our industry partners, sponsors, delegates and staff. We know this will be a disappointment to all those who were planning to attend the live show.
“However, our main objective has always been to deliver a global show bringing travel professionals from the seven continents, and we are now channelling our energies into the creation of an outstanding, large-scale digital gathering that will enable the travel industry to connect, to network, do business and learn about this new consumer environment.
“We will miss meeting you in person at ExCeL but we have the skills, experience and resources to produce an engaging and effective show to support the industry’s recovery.
“2020 has been a challenging year, but we pledge to do everything we can for the travel industry in 2021 and bring you the best live version of WTM London from the last 40 years.”