Bigger than ever

World Travel Market London 2023 – the world’s most influential travel & tourism event – saw attendance rise by more than a fifth year on year. The event has been reported 5.3 per cent larger than the pre-pandemic show in 2019

The recently concluded WTM London 2023 saw unprecedented collaborations such as the one between Ras Al Khaimah and Omran, who signed a collaborative treaty on cross-destination promotions and development of resorts within the UAE emirate

World Travel Market London 2023 (November 6 to 8) welcomed 43,727 attendees, higher by more than a fifth or 22 per cent over last year. The number of exhibitors rose by 23 per cent year on year, up to 3,875 – and the event was 5.3 per cent larger than the pre-pandemic show in 2019.

The event hosted 4,560 qualified buyers, and facilitated 29,077 pre-booked meetings, enabling the industry to plan, network and do deals for 2024 and beyond. Over three days at London’s ExCel, World Travel Market London welcomed 1,976 representatives of the world’s media – up by 31 per cent on 2022.

WTM London 2024 will run from November 5 to 7, scrapping the Monday to Wednesday format and adopting a more mid-week Tuesday to Thursday schedule.


Cross expansion

Cross Hotels & Resorts, a leading hospitality company based in South East Asia, participated at WTM 2023, with a resolute commitment to substantial expansion, aiming to elevate its portfolio from 28 to 100 hotels by 2028.

With a strong current presence in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Japan, Cross is now strategically exploring opportunities in Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore, with future aspirations to bridge Oceania and Asia by entering the Australian market. To accelerate this growth, the company has introduced a conversion brand and white label solution, solidifying its position as a dominant force in the Asia Pacific hospitality industry.

Cross has been on an extraordinary journey of global expansion since its acquisition by the Flight Centre Travel Group in 2017, establishing itself as one of the fastest-growing players in the hospitality industry.

“We are embarking on an exhilarating journey to redefine the future of hospitality. Our relentless commitment to innovation and our ambitious expansion plans signal our unwavering dedication to providing exceptional experiences to our guests and unparalleled opportunities for our partners,” Harry Thaliwal, CEO of Cross Hotels & Resorts, says.


Extreme in Sri Lanka

Extreme International, a world-leading, purpose-driven adventure brand, announced a strategic collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) on the sidelines of WTM 2023. This partnership will leverage Extreme’s expertise in adventure sports, hospitality and tourism to enhance the appeal of Sri Lanka for global adventure enthusiasts and leisure travellers.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Alistair Gosling, CEO and Founder of Extreme and Chalaka Gajabahu, Chairman of SLTPB, to promote and market Sri Lanka as a premier adventure sports and tourism destination, develop extreme and adventure sports destinations and design, develop and operate an array of extreme and adventure sports hospitality offers and experiences across the country.

“This partnership is testament to Extreme’s commitment to drive positive change through extreme and adventure sports, across global destinations, regardless of their size or location. Sri Lanka’s renowned natural beauty, rich ecosystem and culture and amazing topography, offers the perfect canvas to cater to adventure tourism and hospitality. The Extreme Destinations development team and I are looking forward to being part of the journey to bring adventure sports hospitality and experiences to this destination,” said Gosling.


RateHawk rebrands, an online system for booking hotels, air tickets, and transfers for travel professionals, announced its major rebranding initiative that encompasses an updated corporate identity, strategic reimagining, and the unveiling of a new logo. The new identity was officially unveiled at the World Travel Market in London.

RateHawk is a subsidiary of Emerging Travel Group, a global travel company. With a diverse team of over 2,600 employees in 80 countries, Emerging Travel Group achieved a net turnover of $1billion in 2022.

The platform is used by more than 54,000 travel professionals worldwide. In the first three quarters of 2023, RateHawk’s net booking value surged over 100 per cent year-over-year.

The platform features one of the most extensive hotel inventories in the market, with a selection of 2.2 million accommodations carefully aggregated and curated from 210 suppliers, reinforced by 80,000 direct hotel contracts, along with flights of over 350 airlines and transfers in 150 countries. RateHawk also seamlessly distributes its hotel inventory through API to global Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), tour operators, and technology companies.


RAKTDA and Omran

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) and Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran Group) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collectively initiate and pursue cross-destination tourism promotion and marketing initiatives between the Musandam Governorate, Sultanate of Oman and the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates.

The agreement was signed in London, UK, between Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and Dr Hashil Obaid Al Mahrouqi, Chief Executive Officer of Omran Group during a signing ceremony held at the World Travel Market, one of the most influential annual global exhibitions on travel and tourism.

The agreement will see leaders of both organisations work together to create opportunities for travellers to visit both destinations, Ras Al Khaimah and Musandam, in a single trip much before the unified GCC visa comes into effect in two years’ time.

The MoU sets forth a framework for greater collaboration and dialogue on marketing initiatives to promote cross-destination tourism. This includes facilitating ease of access in transportation between Musandam and Ras Al Khaimah, developing favourable visa arrangements for international travellers to visit both destinations and initiating tourism packages, adventure offerings and partnership opportunities.

Raki Phillips, Chief Executive Officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, said: “This first of its kind agreement is built upon a formidable synergy between Ras Al Khaimah and the neighbouring Musandam Governorate. We look forward to working together with Omran on cross-destination promotions which will not only showcase each of our destinations’ distinct tourism offerings, but also raise awareness among international visitors about the wide range of tourism attractions in the Middle East.”


Barceló and Omran

Meanwhile, leading Spanish hospitality management group, Barceló Hotel Group, also signed a strategic agreement with Omran Group to augment investment and growth opportunities in Oman’s tourism and hospitality sectors and foster economic growth with the launch of hospitality projects in the country.

The joint partnership will establish a real estate development fund aimed at investing in key tourism and hospitality projects across the country. This initiative aligns with the partners’ vision to position the Sultanate as a leading hospitality destination in the global space and enhance Omran Group’s objectives to drive foreign direct investment (FDI) in strategic development projects.  

The fund will focus on key objectives and investment opportunities. Barceló Hotel Group will also manage and operate the fund’s assets to boost investment and growth opportunities in the 4-star and 5-star hotel segments, and other development projects.