Oman Air has hailed the success of this year's World Travel Market (WTM) after receiving more visitors to its stand than at any time over the last three years. And the success of Oman Air's participation at WTM mirrors that of the Sultanate of Oman's tourism promotion, led by the Oman Ministry of Tourism and Oman Air, which latest research shows has seen the country's income from tourism rise to over $1 billion dollars for the first time in its history.
Nearly 50,000 delegates gathered at London's ExCel Centre from Monday 4th to Thursday 7th November 2013, where more than 180 countries and regions, with over 5,000 exhibitors, were showcased. Over the course of the full event, it is expected that more than £2 billion in industry deals will have been facilitated at WTM this year.
Oman Air's dramatic, two-storey stand at WTM provided an ideal location for formal and informal meetings, social gatherings and casual enquiries throughout the course of the four-day event. The national airline of the Sultanate of Oman hosted a multitude of representatives from the travel trade and the media to discuss the airline's future plans, potential partnerships and Oman's vision for increased tourism. Oman Air's delegation, headed up by Chief Commercial Officer Abdulrazaq Al Raisi, were also pleased to offer the carrier's trademark hospitality at a 20th Anniversary reception on the stand, at which more than 60 guests met staff from Muscat and London.
Usama Karim Al Haremi, Senior Manager Corporate Communications and Media, headed up Oman Air’s media relations and marketing drive at the event and commented:
“World Travel Market 2013 was a great success for Oman Air and we were delighted to welcome unprecedented numbers of visitors to our stand. Our reception provided an excellent focal point for our hospitality and visitor numbers were further boosted by the presence of cartoonists, who offered guests the chance to take home a unique caricature of themselves with an Oman Air aircraft.
“And, whilst the social side of the show exposed Oman Air’s brand to thousands of visitors, we were also able to achieve a great deal in terms of hard business. We forged new partnerships, further strengthened existing relationships and made many new contacts which will benefit both Oman Air and the Sultanate of Oman in months and years to come.”
World Travel Market also provided a forum for a range of debates, seminars and announcements, one of the most significant of which, for Oman Air, was the publication of research findings by both Euromonitor International and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
The Euromonitor International report, ‘Middle East – Overview’, showed that the Middle East and Africa was the second most dynamic region for the value growth of luxury goods between 2007 and 2012, reaching US$15.2 billion and predicted to grow between 2012 and 2017 by a further 37%. Analysis of the figures showed that luxury brands, as well as high-end experiences that offer comfort and personalised entertainment, are especially favoured by Middle East consumers. Furthermore, this penchant for luxury explains the widespread domination across the Middle East of four- and five-star hotels and resorts in key destinations. The report added that the region’s focus on luxury was also reflected in Middle East airlines’ large-scale investment in their world-class Business Class operations.
Usama Karim Al Haremi added:
“Euromonitor International’s report is a clear reflection of Oman Air’s experience. Over the last four years, we have experienced exceptionally high demand for our premium products and services, which have also been recognised in a wide range of international awards programmes. We have made very significant investments in our Business Class passenger experience, and we look forwarded to adding to this with the arrival, from next year, of the first of the 20 aircraft we currently have on order. Having built our formidable reputation on a combination of luxury, choice and convenience, we look forward to enabling many more air travellers to experience Oman Air’s outstanding hospitality.”
Meanwhile, the UNWTO report, ‘Tourism Highlights 2013’, showed that, for the first time, Oman recorded revenues of more than US$1 billion from international tourism in 2012. At a time when tourism is collapsing in a number of other Middle East markets, Oman’s revenues of US$1.09 billion from tourism are now fourth largest in the GCC. Oman now accounts for 2.3% of all international tourism to the Middle East.
Usama Karim Al Haremi further commented:
“A key part of Oman Air’s mission is to raise international awareness of the unparalleled beauty and hospitality that Oman offers to visitors and to encourage people from around the world to discover the Sultanate for themselves. The latest figures published by the UNWTO are therefore extremely encouraging and show that Oman Air and its partners at the Ministry of Tourism are achieving our aims. The increase of Oman’s airport sector, together with the expansion of Oman Air’s fleet, will enable us over the next few years to welcome many more visitors and we look forward to seeing tourism numbers continue their impressive growth.”
The greater visitor numbers to Oman Air’s stand was mirrored elsewhere at WTM, which saw an overall delegate increase of 5%. The first day (Monday 4th November) of the event recorded invite-only visitor attendance up by 12% on last year, to almost 9,000, with a 7% increase – to 18,292 visitors – recorded on the second day, which is traditionally the busiest, as it is the first day that the show is open to the whole travel industry. A further 5% increase was recorded on the third day of the event and significant visitor increases were also seen on the last day, which is open to the general public.
Reed Travel Exhibitions, Senior Director, World Travel Market, Simon Press said:
“I am absolutely delighted with the delegate attendance of WTM 2013 across the first three days. These figures demonstrate the power and importance of WTM to the industry and the role it plays in facilitating business for sector.”
Other highlights of WTM 2013 include:
- Oman Ministry of Tourism sponsored the World Responsible Tourism Awards, part of World Responsible Tourism Day on Wednesday 6th November. The overall winner of the awards was TUI Netherlands, which picked up the accolade as a result of its work to address child sex tourism in northern Brazil.
- 200 leaders of the travel industry attended the WTM Captains of Industry Lunch.
- The inaugural Travel Technology Show put the spotlight on social media and mobile trends as well as how online penetration continues apace for some destinations.
- A session on how Facebook is now present at every stage of the travel process, from dreaming and planning to experiencing and reflecting, drew a huge audience.
- UNWTO Secretary General Dr Taleb Rifai said in the first eight months of 2013 aviation grew by 5.1% and will close the year 4% up, ahead of what the UNWTO was predicting earlier this year.
- Mr Rifai added that aviation is tipped to grow by 4% in 2014, despite ongoing concerns over taxes and visas.
- Brazilian superstar footballer Ronaldo was at WTM to promote the Brazil World Cup as part of the 'Next stop Brazil - 2014 FIFA World Cup update'.