WTM London and Travel Forward to go completely virtual this year

 Tuesday, September 15, 2020 


WTM London – the event where Ideas Arrive and Travel Forward – the travel and hospitality technology event co-located with WTM London that is set to take place in November has decided to go entirely virtual for the year. It was previously decided that live shows would take place at ExCel London on November 2-4, 2020. However, due to the continued travel restrictions, imposition of quarantine requirements and local lockdowns across Europe, organisers have decided to provide complete virtual experiences in the events.

WTM Virtual will now take place from November 9-11, and offer delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and much more. The virtual show will also see an investment summit in partnership with ITIC – International Tourism & Investment Conference – and a new Marketing Forum and a 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.

On the other hand, a virtual version of Travel Forward is also being shaped up and will combine virtual exhibition, free virtual 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. WTM London’s Senior Director Simon Press said in his statement that due to the unfortunate situations related to the pandemic, this will be the first time that there will be no live event since WTM London opening in 1980.

He shared that organisers have worked tirelessly to arrange a physical show, but the increasing number of travel restrictions and the uncertainty around the world means that it will be impractical for many overseas visitors to attend the events in person. He also mentioned that there is also an uncertainty around business events and conferences that being allowed to take place in the U.K, the official deadline of the decision being October 1. However, he also stated that 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.

Richard Gayle, Event Manager, Travel Forward further added that Travel Forward is the event that embraces fresh concepts and innovative projects to inspire delegates. He said that this running Travel Forward virtually for the year will allow organisers to connect even more with global travel tech companies who are wanting to promote themselves to the world. He shared that the organisers are confident that Travel Forward Virtual will offer delegates all the support and ideas about industry recovery and provide more solutions to overcome the biggest challenges faced by the travel industry at present.

Meanwhile,  the London Travel Week (October 30 – November 5, 2020) will also be returning virtually and provide attendees a chance to learn, network and innovate in the week leading up to WTM Virtual. During London Travel Week, 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 the perfect 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. The summit is the largest annual gathering of tourism ministers and pledges to bring together about 100 ministers along with 100 industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and experts to help develop the manifesto through a Delphi process.

Simon Press further added that the decision to transition to a virtual-only event has been undertaken after a great deal of consultation with industry partners, sponsors, delegates and staff. He said that organisers are aware that the move might to be disappointing to everyone who planned to attend the live show and mentioned that the main objective of the events has always been to deliver a global show bringing travel professionals from the seven continents.

He shared that authorities are now channelling their 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 the new consumer environment. He also stated that organisers will miss meeting the guests in person at ExCeL but they also have the skills, experience and resources to produce an engaging and effective show to support the industry’s recovery. He concluded that 2020 has been a challenging year, and pledged that authorities will do everything possible for the travel industry in 2021 and the best live version of WTM London from the last 40 years.

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