The Summit is one of WTM's highest profile events, bringing together some 200 tourism ministers and their aides. The theme for this year's Summit was the importance for governments to bring air transport and tourism policies closer together.
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. Rifai added that aviation is tipped to grow by 4% in 2014, despite ongoing concerns over taxes and visas.
Technology might help ease the situation around visas. Svend Leirvaag, Vice President of Government Affairs, Amadeus said: “If you standardise [the application process] then this way you have the networks to build a web of connectivity. You can really learn from the aviation industry.”
Aviation taxes are also a headwind for the tourism industry. Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Commissioner of Tourism, United States Virgin Islands, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization said: “Make no mistake that taxation has a big impact on the whole business of travel and has an effect on all of us.”
Elsewhere, WTM's Premier Partner Visit Flanders hosted a standing-room only press conference, offering an update on its plans to mark the centenary of the Great War. New initiatives revealed today include the "Light Front '14" project. Visit Flanders is looking for 8,750 participants to stand along the 87.5 kilometres of the original Front Line next October, one person every 100 meters.
WTM's success as the leading global event for the travel industry has led to the launch of new regional events WTM Latin America and WTM Africa. The inaugural WTM Africa takes place in May 2014. Exhibition director Polly Magraw told a press conference that responsible tourism will be an important part of the event, with WTM using the experience and expertise from hosting World Responsible Tourism Day at WTM. It is on track to attract 700 exhibitors.
To conclude the day former Brazilian superstar football Ronaldo was at WTM to promote the Brazil World Cup as part of the ‘Next stop Brazil - 2014 FIFA World Cup update’, organised by football governing body FIFA.