Boy, were we glad we did!
After enjoying the most hassle-free and Bond-like journey to the venue (thanks, Emirates Air Line, for the free rides!) we found the chance to meet contacts old and new, without travelling the world, invaluable.
Despite the usual murmurs in the halls around the relevance, location and costs of the event, there really isn’t anywhere else on the planet to be in that first week of November that affords such a great opportunity to find out about the latest trends, to network and to catch up with friends.
This year also felt different from a sustainable tourism perspective (OK, they were still handing out plastic bags on the way in… perhaps next year they should charge 5p?). Everyone we spoke to seemed to just ‘get it’ – it’s like the majority of the industry are now starting to recognise that sustainability is just good business; that planning and delivering tourism in a responsible way is the sure-fire route to long-term success and prosperity.
This awakening was reflected too in the content of the event. No longer are World Responsible Tourism session concentrated on Wednesday, but intertwined with the ‘main’ event programme.
It was particularly good to see industry leaders, tour operators and destinations, discussing why industry and government must collaborate to create better places to live in and visit – a subject very dear to our hearts here at the Travel Foundation.
It is my hope that people will continue to meet up at forum such as this, and that events like WTM continue to up their game when it comes to sustainable tourism; ensuring, year after year, that this subject becomes more mainstream and takes its rightful place at the heart of discussions alongside the perennial themes like taxation, infrastructure investment and open border agreements.
See you there next year!
Graeme is Head of Partnerships at the Travel Foundation. Connect with him on LinkedIn.