As the global travel industry converges at ExCeL for yet another edition of the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, hopes and expectations run high amid concerns around global economic volatility, overtourism, safety and security, and technology-led disruptions of traditional business models.
WTM itself has had to reinvent to stay relevant. From being an ‘exhibition’ or ‘trade fair’, events like WTM have become more about content around future trends, business strategy, new products and experiences, and the like, while facilitating branding, connections and relationship building. By introducing speed networking in 2010 to making it a three-day event in 2016 and launching Travel Forward – the most exciting tech event in travel, as a platform to inspire the travel and hospitality industry with the next generation of technology – this year, WTM has been listening, evolving and responding to changing expectations of exhibitors and attendees, triggered by the ever-transforming business landscape.
Fears around a ‘no-deal’ Brexit are already threatening UK’s travel and exports. Unfortunately, exchange rates have meant more expensive holidays for UK citizens travelling to the EU. It’s likely that a ‘no deal’ will trigger a further currency collapse and see travel to EU countries become even more expensive. On top of this, Britons might find that they need to start paying for emergency healthcare if a ‘no deal’ means loss of the European Health Insurance scheme.
Three quarters of all overseas trips made by Britons are to the EU. Research by the Association of British Travel Agents found that UK tourists are worth €37.4 billion a year to EU member states. The most popular destination for British tourists in 2017 was Spain with 19 million Britons visiting the country, with France in second place. A ‘no deal’ Brexit in March 2019 can turn the tables.
All this can mean good news for India Tourism if we play it well. Currently, UK is the third largest source market for India attracting 9,86,296 visitors to our nation in 2017, contributing 9.83 per cent of the total FTA pie. Of the top 10 source markets for India, France and Germany also make the cut in Europe contributing 2.68 per cent and 2.49 per cent to the total FTA numbers.
Our expanded e-visa program, enhanced regional connectivity, continuous investments in tourism infrastructure, adventure, heritage, spiritual and wellness tourism products – all of these if marketed well to the UK and EU nations can help us in considerably improving arrival numbers from that side of the world. And what better platform than WTM where the ‘Big Ideas’ arrive this month? See you at ExCeL.