WTM London will not be held as a physical event in 2020 for the first time in the show’s 40-year history, organiser Reed Travel Exhibitions has confirmed to TTG.
The travel trade show – and its technology-focused sister event Travel Forward – had been due to take place at London’s ExCeL on 2-4 November, but both will now be run entirely virtually.
Reed said “continuing travel restrictions, imposition of quarantine requirements and local lockdowns across Europe” had led to the decision to switch to a digital programme.
WTM London senior director Simon Press said: “Sadly, this year will be the first time since we launched WTM London in 1980 that there will be no live event.
“We have worked tirelessly to organise a physical show, but the increasing number of travel restrictions and the uncertainty around the world means it will be impractical for many overseas visitors to attend in person.
“Additionally, there remains uncertainty around business events and conferences being allowed to take place in the UK – the official deadline for this decision is 1 October.
“However, thousands of travel trade professionals from around the globe will still be able to meet and do business in an extensive range of virtual sessions, to help the industry recover, rebuild and innovate.”
WTM Virtual will take place from 9-11 November, offering delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one video meetings, attend conference sessions and roundtables and take part in speed networking.
Reed said the virtual show will also see an investment summit in partnership with the International Tourism & Investment Conference – and a new Marketing Forum and workshop in partnership with The Five Percent.
WTM Virtual will feature four digital theatres hosting webinars and debates.
A virtual edition of Travel Forward is also being organised and will combine a digital exhibition, free virtual conference sessions and speed networking for start-ups to meet investors.
With its theme - Resilience, Innovation, Response – Reed said Travel Forward Virtual would add a technology-based approach in supporting the recovery of the travel and tourism industry amid the Covid pandemic.