Exhibitors at WTM Virtual share what they’ll be focusing on in 2021 and the destination news they’ll be showcasing at the three-day event in November
Tolene van der Merwe, director, UK and Ireland
“Malta is looking at 2021 as the year for spending time with friends and family due to the time spent apart in 2020. We’ll continue to highlight Valletta as a city break destination as well as focus on Malta’s heritage, culture, diving expertise and appeal as an adventure and wellness destination.
“The creation of Calypso, a new hotel due to open on Comino, will be the first and only hotel on the island when it opens – it’s currently in the development stage. Malta has also started extensive renovations on Villa Guardamangia, the Queen’s former Maltese residence, which will be open to the public once completed.
“We look forward to welcoming travellers back without government restrictions. Our hope is to rebuild visitor numbers and continue to provide a fun, welcoming holiday experience in Covid-secure surroundings.”
Kristjan Stanicic, managing director
“The 2021 focus will continue to be on improving the level of safety, as well as promoting the products that, under these circumstances are likely to be popular, such as nautical tourism, sun and sea, nature and gastronomy.
“We can be proud of the first five-plus star hotel, Grand Park Hotel in Rovinj, which includes one of Croatia’s most modern marinas. There is also the most recent opening of boutique resort hotel Maslina in Stari Grad on Hvar and the latest addition to the Hilton family of hotels in Rijeka, Costabella Beach Resort and Spa. As for attractions, we can single out the unique Skywalk lookout on Biokovo.
“In 2020 Croatia achieved some of the best visitor numbers in the Mediterranean, so our aim is to achieve and maintain favourable epidemiological conditions so we can continue to attract international visitors.”
Shahab Shayan, senior manager, UK, Ireland and Nordics
“At WTM Virtual we will be present with our partners from hotels, events, attractions and DMCs. Visitors to our virtual stand will have the opportunity to hear more about the opening of Ain Dubai, the world’s tallest observation wheel, Expo 2020 and the exciting events planned for when it begins next year, plus new updates from Atlantis The Palm including the extension of Aquaventure.
“Next year is set to be a landmark year for Dubai with the rescheduled Expo 2020 taking place 1 October 2021-31 March 2022. We remain optimistic due to positive indicators – the gradual opening of borders and the resumption of passenger flights by our key partners, Emirates and FlyDubai. In addition, Dubai ranks highly in global internet searches for destinations. Dubai has a lot to offer travellers and it’s all underpinned by health and safety measures to provide peace of mind. We look forward to welcoming visitors back when they are ready.”
Wishnutama Kusubandio, tourism minister
“We have more than 70 sharers from varied regions at WTM Virtual, including priority destinations known as the Ten New Balis, and our digital booth features a tourist information corner, virtual tours and cultural performances.
“We’re seeing a shift from mass tourism to more distributive, specific tourism, therefore one of our next focuses will be on niche interests such as sport tourism as we prepare for the MotoGP 2021 in Mandalika, Lombok. Our recovery programme will reinforce attractions, accessibility and amenity developments, particularly in our five priority destinations: Lake Toba, Borobudur, Mandalika, Labuan Bajo and Likupang.
“People are more concerned about health and wellness than ever before, so consequently, wellness tourism has become one of our key focuses too. Indonesia has a lot of destinations that offer wellness tourist packages such as Java, Bali and Lombok. We’re also developing more sustainability-based tourism in our priority destinations. All of these tourism experiences are prepared with CHSE protocols.”
Marija Labović, CEO
“Bearing in mind the latest trends, some influenced by Covid-19, Serbia will target the Russian, Western European, US and Chinese markets in 2021. The promotion will focus primarily on nature tourism but will also cover gastronomy, culture, historical monuments, heritage, wine tours, rakija routes and craft brewery tours.
“Every year in Serbia we have many hotel openings, both in the big cities and the resorts. Some of our newest include the four-star Hotel Mona Plaza in Belgrade, which sits where the first Serbian chocolate factory once stood, the Ramonda Hotel on Rtanj Mountain, spa resort Vrnjačka Banja, Tonanti Hotel and the five-star Tornik Sky Hotel in the mountain resort of Zlatibor.
“We are optimists, expecting that from spring 2021 normalisation will begin. We hope that in the next 12 months we will be able to return domestic and regional tourist numbers to the level they were at before the crisis.”
Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism
“The luxury market will be a key focus in 2021, with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic launching new routes to Montego Bay from Gatwick and Heathrow, resulting in a 300% increase in Club Class and Upper Class seats per week. We’ll also focus on promoting new accommodation and extended refurbishments at sought-after resorts, including the expansion of the iconic Geejam hotel, a new beach club and expanded private beach at Tryall Club Villa Resort, plus new packages such as Round Hill’s Villa Retreat option.
“We’re very excited about Sandals South Coast in Jamaica, which will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation and is set to open in December. Guests can expect the addition of the world’s first-ever Swim-up Rondoval Suites, positioned on a pool oasis. The resort’s 112-room Dutch Village will also be redesigned with direct access to two new swim-up pools, while a modern wedding venue is being added in the Italian Village.”
Betty Radier, CEO
“Tourism business is picking up since Kenya opened its skies to international flights again from 1 August 2020 and we’ve been awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Safe Travel Stamp in recognition of the destination’s adoption of global health and hygiene-standardised protocols.
“According to the Tourism Research Institute, arrivals by the end of August place the US as the number-one source market, followed by the UK with 2,768 and 2,469 arrivals respectively.”
Rupert Peters, regional managing director, Europe and India
“Our key airline partners including Air Canada, Air Transat and Westjet have introduced new airport and onboard hygiene enhancements to provide passengers with additional reassurance, while British tour operators tell us that Canada was one of their top destinations for immediate rebookings for 2021, which is promising. Canada is a destination with lots of space and we believe this will be an important consideration for many international travellers when planning their holidays.
“We’ll continue to target the over-45s market in 2021, but our immediate priority will be to work with our UK trade partners and airlines to get vouchered clients rebooked. We’ll also be developing the For Glowing Hearts brand, for which roll-out was curtailed due to Covid-19.”
Tomohide Ichikawa, executive director
“Reopening our borders to tourism is a prerequisite, but in 2021 our main focuses will involve building on the legacy of the Rugby World Cup 2019 and continuing to encourage travel not just to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, but to the many little-known wonders off the beaten track.”
“Hokkaido has been a clear point of interest in recent years and this looks set to continue, while a recent focus on the ski and snowboard market has continued throughout 2020.
“With 2021 comes accommodation openings around Niseko, including properties from Ritz Carlton and Park Hyatt, as well as new openings in Okinawa – Hoshino’s ultra-luxury villas with private beach access and Treeful Treehouse Eco Resort – and Japan’s first W hotel in Osaka.
“Here at JNTO our most recent campaign, Hope Lights the Way, drew on a well-known Japanese phrase roughly translating to ‘beyond the clouds, there is always light’. We eagerly hope for and look forward to the day when we can welcome UK visitors back to Japan.”
Oddný Arnarsdóttir, manager
“This year we have softly launched two new touring routes, the Diamond Circle in North Iceland and the Westfjords Way, so these will be a big focus for us next year. We also have some fantastic hotel openings for 2021, including the new Sky Lagoon, a geothermal lagoon featuring a swim-up bar with ocean views near Reykjavik. We will also continue to promote adventure and natural beauty, wellness, gastronomy, sustainability, music, culture and events throughout 2021.
“We have been working very hard in Iceland to manage the number of coronavirus cases in our country and keep people safe. Our test and trace system has been very effective and we will be ready to welcome visitors again when the travel corridor opens.”
Sherin Francis, CEO
“The Seychelles is open for business and, in spite of certain restrictions designed to ensure everyone’s safety, travellers can still enjoy the many and varied attributes of our island paradise as we’re ensuring Covid-19 protocols are in place. These include PCR tests prior to travel and protocols onboard aircraft as well as on arrival.
“One new hotel on the horizon is Club Med, due to open early in 2021, and we are looking to work on a suite of virtual tours, virtual cultural events and music concerts to give lovers of Seychelles a taste of the islands from home.
“Our hope is for our industry to return safely and to see our hotels, guesthouses, villas and self-catering properties return to the fullest occupancy possible given that tourism is our bread and butter. Also, that we use this experience of Covid-19 to tweak our tourism industry and ensure we come back stronger than ever.”
Destinations from around the world will give country-wide updates at WTM Virtual on Monday 9 November
08:00-08:45 – Indonesia
09:00-09:45 – The Philippines
10:00-10:45 – Balearic Islands
13:00-13:45 – Andalućia
14:00-14:45 – Italy
16:15-17:00 – Poland
18:15-19:00 – Costa Rica