Exhibitors from the Asia Pacific region have significantly increased the size of their stands at this year’s WTM London – the leading global event for the travel industry. WTM London is also reporting rising interest from visitors who are keen to find out about networking and doing business with firms from the region during WTM London. The growth is seen across the board, from mature markets in Japan, Korea and Australia to emerging destinations such as Kyrgyzstan, Taiwan, Mongolia and Vietnam.
One hotspot expecting to see a boost in visitor numbers is Japan, which is preparing to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the summer Olympics in 2020. The Japan National Tourism Organisation has expanded its WTM London exhibition stand space by more than a third for 2017, as it ramps up marketing activity ahead of the international sporting tournaments.
In the past year, the JNTO has opened new offices in Madrid, Rome, Moscow, Delhi, Hanoi, Manila and Kuala Lumpur as it capitalises on its growing popularity in long-haul markets and among neighbouring Asian countries.
The country’s capital was recently named among the top ten best value holiday hotspots for 2017, according to the UK Post Office’s Holiday Money Report.
The barometer is dominated by popular European destinations but Tokyo’s debut at number eight this year makes it the only long-haul destination in the list of top ten best value cities.
The country is seeing a host of hotel and resort openings – for example, Legoland Japan opened in April 2017, and a Moomin theme park is set to open in 2019 – and two new luxury sightseeing trains began running in spring 2017.
Furthermore, Finnair will increase its Tokyo-bound flights in summer 2017, and Japan Airlines (JAL) will launch a new direct service between London and Tokyo from October 2017.
Meanwhile, the Korea Tourism Organisation is taking 20% more space to publicise the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea’s scenic Gangwondo region.
At last year’s WTM London, the national tourist board promoted the Winter Olympics with activities such as a virtual-reality ski-jump machine on its stand, and it has highlighted the games heavily throughout major markets during 2017.
Aside from the Olympics, the KTO will promote its trendy, contemporary ‘Hallyu’ culture – which covers music, fashion and drama – and new high-speed train services.
Tourism Australia has expanded its stand space by 17% year-on-year, as it capitalises on strong growth in key markets such as the US, the UK and Asia.
Its inbound tourism sector is experiencing record growth in international visitor numbers and cities such as Sydney are seeing unprecedented investment in the hotel sector.
Elsewhere, many emerging markets in Asia Pacific are tapping into their potential and taking bigger stands to exploit growth trends.
- Kyrgyzstan in central Asia has more than tripled its stand size, as it capitalises on rising interest in the Silk Road – an ancient network of trade routes that linked the East and West for centuries.
It is part of the Silk Road Destinations group, which includes Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Armenia.
- The Taiwan Tourism Board has increased its stand by 42% this year, as it promotes its marketing message: ‘The Heart of Asia’.
As well as vibrant cities and striking natural scenery, the country is also highlighting cycling holidays, adventure travel, heritage attractions and its cuisine.
The country recently became the first in Asia to approve same-sex marriages – so it is now marketing to the LGBT market too.
- The stand for the Mongolian Tourism Association is 20% larger this year, as the country looks to tourism to help boost its economy.
It is expanding in many sectors, from activity and adventure travel to cultural and eco-tourism, with unique destinations such as the Gobi Desert and the capital, Ulaanbaatar.
- Vietnam’s national tourism board is taking a stand that is two-and-a-half times bigger than last year, thanks to partners who are eager to make the most of opportunities at WTM London.
As well as the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, visitors to the Vietnam stand can meet representatives of the national flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines; the capital city’s tourist board, the Hanoi Promotion Agency; and the country’s Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) – a collection of industry stakeholders, including major tour operators and hotel and resort brands.
Furthermore, WTM London is seeing an increase in the number of visitors interested in the Asia Pacific region from 8,800 in 2015 to 9,400 in 2016.
World Travel Market London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “It’s remarkable to see how quickly exhibitors in the Asia Pacific region are increasing their stands at WTM London.
“It’s a reflection of the burgeoning growth in that part of the world and how the travel trade there recognises that WTM London is an unrivalled platform to both conduct business and boost awareness.”
He added: “Over the past couple of years, we’ve also seen an upsurge in the number of visitors who say they want to do business with, or find out more about Asia Pacific exhibitors – the number rose by 6% between 2015 and 2016, and we expect that growth rate to increase yet further this year.”