At WTM, the New and the Beleaguered Fight to be Seen
Another busy day of World Travel Market and I chatted up many Americans, Canadians and Brits as well as representatives from dozens of countries around the world. I am trying NOT to think about what just happened in the US last night, as I bet many of my friends here in England would say about their recent Brexit vote. Let’s not go there.
Some of the countries exhibiting here at the show are relative newcomers to the tourism scene. One gigantic booth belonged to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and I stopped in to chat with Khaleed Al Suhail, who is a tourism minister.
Their booth is one of the largest in the section, still dwarfed by the Dubai stand where people were dining on delicious small plates of food, watching a man with a falcon, and upstairs in their conference room, taking meetings all day long.
The Saudis realize that the end of oil means the beginning of their nascent tourism development, and they’re keen to get more tourists.
Khaleed was friendly in the way that all Arabs are to strangers, like he was taking me in after hiking in the desert. I think many people will want to visit because people love places they haven’t yet been.
Undaunted despite the terrible news that comes out every day about their country, I met with two woman manning a large and sparsely visited stand for Venezuela. They said things aren’t nearly as bad as you read, (for tourists) and that the only people who are having a bad time are locals.
But again, you have to soldier on, and tourism is too big a piece of any country’s economic puzzle not to push. But with news reports of crime and food shortages, theirs is an especially difficult sell.
Today I’ll head back and focus on some of the technology booths and country booths not yet visited in the vast hall. Then it’s time to take a train out to Kent for a few days in a small town, with no more sales to be done.