The World Travel Market (WTM) virtual event was held from 9th November 2020 to 11th November 2020, from 7am to 10 pm GMT. Sri Lanka Tourism together with the Travel and Tourism industry participants took part in the WTM Virtual UK Travel Market which also included the Online Travel Conference and Exhibitions.
WTM is considered as one of the leading global events for the travel industry. It is a place where the professionals of the industry meet and conduct travel related business deals.
The show is an Annual event and has been staged in The Excel, London and has been acknowledged as the largest global platform for the tourism sector, which brings together and connects with, the leading tourism industry stakeholders in the world.
In 2019, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) collaborated with WTM as the Premier Partner of the Event, in which the entire world participated, paving the way for many invaluable international media interactions, prior to and during the travel fair as part of the benefits while maximizing strategic positioning of Sri Lanka as the Premier Travel Destination of the World.
This involvement as the Premier Partner of this event afforded Sri Lanka the strategic opportunity of being featured in the limelight. There is the added advantage of being in the centre of all attention, as the premium destination; the abundantly endowed nature’s treasure-island with the greatest diversity of natural wonders that every global traveller richly deserves to visit at least once in a lifetime.
In 2019, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau’s (SLTPB) strategic collaboration with WTM to be the Premier Partner of the event climaxed in countless media interactions and tourism flow.
Yet in April which was to be the height of the tourism season an unpredicted terror attack dampened all Tourism opportunities creating mayhem in the country.
The tremendous opportunity for Sri Lanka Tourism was shattered then, with a global travel alert to curb tourism to the destination, when Sri Lanka was poised to become a tourist hub at its ‘peak’ moment of traveller demand.
With the COVID- 19 pandemic waves rising, the globally imposed travel restrictions submerged all optimism, driving dynamic action-plans of tourism and travel industry, down the drain. The global travel community resilient and determined with an animated technology driven strategies found ways to ride the crest of the wave. As a result Virtual Travel Fairs are being born as a tribute to travel industry community’s ingenuity and optimism in the new normal.
As one of the major event in the tourism industry calendar this year, WTM Virtual Travel Fair 2020; although the format of the event was different, having been conducted in a virtual platform, provided Live Conference sessions and Live Forums which focused on restoring and developing the Travel and Tourism Industry, moving forward unhindered, leaping hurdles and pushing limits with resilience.
The WTM virtual event was featured in “ConnectMe” meeting platform and all attended including the representatives from Sri Lanka Tourism, Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK and the industry participants were able to meet and network online with the stake holders of the UK Market including media, tour operators and other stakeholders related to the travel trade.
Appointments were made ahead of time with the UK stakeholders, allowing 30 minutes for each event throughout the three days, which enabled ‘one to one’ networking and meeting opportunities for many.
SLTPB created an eye catching virtual stand, which highlighted the unique features of the country with images and videos to entice and mesmerize the onlookers and relevant website links to those who interacted with the Sri Lankan representative contingent.
The UK market is one of Sri Lanka’s main markets for Tourism which generated a remarkable number of 254,175 arrivals in 2018. Participation for these events are critical to Sri Lanka in creating value in their minds, as a go-to destination that fits perfectly with the preferences of any age group, compatible with their demands, comparable with their dreams and copious with their wants.
Sri Lanka’s rich diversity of resources affords everyone to find their dream destination in some incredible corner or other in this picturesque, diminutive, intriguing and enchanting island.
In promoting Destination Sri Lanka to the UK market it is imperative to position our strategies to drive ‘top of mind’ ideas and concepts that score impeccably with ‘traveller wants and preferences’ that it literally haunt the potential stake holders until they come, discover, immerse and experience what’s ‘So Sri Lanka’.
Accordingly, Sri Lanka Tourism in collaboration with Sri Lanka High Commission in the UK also participated at a Virtual Media Networking session in the UK on 29th September 2020 – “The Virtual Media Meet” which was organized by the ANTOR (Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives).
The participation at the UK Virtual Travel Market and the ensuing Network with Media will hold untold value in drawing inundated visitor volumes from UK to Sri Lanka. Further Sri Lanka still holds the prospect to ride on the popularity and hype created last year and fulfil the dreams of the UK traveller catching up on the lost opportunity to visit this must-experience enchanting destination at least once in their lifetime.
The moment the floodgates of travel restrictions open up to let the pent-up traveller flow with the torrents, Sri Lanka can expect ‘the best year yet in tourism’ which the world hopes is just round the bend.