World Travel Market (WTM) London witnessed delegates, exhibitors, and visitors from around the world sharing and highlighting enthusiasm for travel and tourism. Speakers touched latest trends shaping the travel and tourism industry, post-COVID recovery, inflation, and challenges.
Juliette Losardo, WTM London Exhibition Director, said they recorded a surge in delegate numbers by more than a fifth in 2022. “It is really encouraging reflection of the confidence and optimism in travel and tourism. The challenges we all face were debated at many sessions but, despite these issues, there was a very positive mood among visitors and exhibitors.”
Losardo highlighted that the figures confirm that WTM London is the best place for executives in the sector to network, find out about the latest trends, and seal deals that will help travel and tourism flourish in 2024 and beyond.
Dave Goodger, the Managing Director for EMEA at Tourism Economics, said leisure travel is back to only 10 percent below 2019 levels. “But we’ve got to remember 2019 was a peak year. So, the level of travel we’re seeing this year has only been surpassed in three years in history.”
Some emerging economies have enjoyed significantly stronger growth in outbound tourism compared to more developed economies. Outbound travel from Indonesia more than doubled between 2010 and 2023, compared to a growth of 36 percent in outbound from France. The transformation of the global tourism market is being driven by an increased share of those in emerging markets being able to afford to travel.
Sustainability Influencing Travelers
According to the WTM Global Travel Report, decisions of individuals on matters of sustainability will also greatly influence the industry. Consumers may develop different attitudes regarding where, how, and when they should travel. Perhaps influenced by both government actions and new social norms, this could mean fewer but potentially longer long-haul trips, and more local, short-haul trips.
It could lead to growth in transformative travel itineraries, as individuals who are increasingly aware of social and environmental issues, opt to give back and achieve more when traveling. Growing demand for volunteering, learning new skills, and interacting with local communities are examples of how this could manifest.
The travel and tourism industry is also being overwhelmed by the climate crisis, most noted are the wildfires in Greece. Dimitris Frangakis, the Secretary-General of the Greek National Tourism Organization, said the biggest challenge for the long-term period in the future is the climate crisis. “Greece has a specific plan until 2030 in order to achieve sustainability in the environment, tackle climate change consequences and, of course, adapt to the new era.”
The WTM Global Travel Report acknowledges that climate change may play a more direct role in the holiday choices of consumers in the future as extreme weather becomes more common, and parts of the world heat up at different rates. As weather extremes become more likely in the future, traditional choices regarding timings and locations for holidays are likely to shift.
Overall, travelers are inclined towards unique experiences and destinations. Enhancements in travel infrastructure and connectivity, including high-speed trains, more efficient aircraft enabling reduced transits, and technological improvements that reduce barriers making travel more seamless and efficient are also likely to further influence tourism in the future.