In a welcome message to WTM London, the world’s largest travel trade event since Monday (November 4) at ExCeL London, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the country’s tourism industry achievements. Johnson spoke of the UK’s success story in the 10 years since he first opened the event, when he was then Mayor of London. Since then, he said, tourism had boomed “from Skye to Skegness, from Brecon Beacons to Bognor”.
Johnson added: “The world’s number one tourist destination has become London’s capital city. The British Museum attracts more visitors than I’m too diplomatic to identify from one European country.” Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Digital, Entertainment, Media and Sport, took the stage following Johnson’s speech to the WTM Leaders ‘ Lunch. She highlighted the £ 68bn contribution of tourism to the UK economy. She said the sector accounted for 1.6 million jobs and the UK attracted 38 million tourists last year who spent £ 22.7 billion.
Morgan acknowledged that Brexit was an industry issue. She told the audience: “We’re going to leave the European Union, but we’re not going to set boundaries to keep people in or out. We want to make visiting as frictionless as possible – EEAA or Swiss citizens won’t need a visa.” Atout France and easyJet signed a major three-year partnership at WTM London later that day to boost the number of visitors to France from Britain and Germany.
The deal follows a similar three-year partnership success that focused on increasing numbers from UK to French destinations. The new agreement will see the airline and the tourism agency promoting destinations across the French network of easyJet and will have a € 1 million annual budget. During the event, WTM London’s Headline partner Sri Lanka also took the stage outlining their goal of’ building back better’ six months after the terror attacks that demolished their tourism industry.
Manisha Gunasekera, High Commissioner-Sri Lanka High Commission in London, said: “Exactly a year ago, at WTM, we launched our brand identity’ So Sri Lanka,’ which has now become so closely linked to Sri Lanka.” She added: “The message from Sri Lanka is that it is business as usual. We are strong, unified, and a steady recovery has been made. Also speaking to an extremely crowded room at WTM London, Greek National Tourism Organisations, Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis explained their 10-year plan for tourism.
Theoharis explained: “Our vision is Greece as a complete experience as we have never seen before. Greece is more than the sun and sea, the beach and ancient monuments.” He said that quality, sustainability and authenticity are the cornerstones of the new plan, with the ultimate ambition to make Greece “one of the top sustainable destinations in the world.” WTM London will run till November 6