Planned to be held at ExCeL London from 2-4 November this year, WTM London along with Travel Forward will be entirely virtual and held a week later, from 9-11 November.
Organisers cited “continuing travel restrictions, imposition of quarantine requirements and local lockdowns across Europe” for the switch to a virtual solution.
“Sadly, this year will be the first time since we launched WTM London in 1980 that there will be no live event,” said WTM London’s Senior Director Simon Press.
“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 being the 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 offer delegates the chance to arrange one-to-one virtual meetings to do business, attend conference sessions and roundtables, take part in speed networking and more.
A virtual version of Travel Forward is also in the process of being shaped up and will combine virtual exhibition, free virtual conference sessions and speed networking for start-ups to meet investors.
With the theme ‘Resilience, Innovation, Response’, Travel Forward Virtual will add a technology-based approach in supporting the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.
Similarly, London Travel Week will be returning virtually providing attendees with a chance to learn, network and innovate in the week leading up to WTM Virtual.
Press said the main objective for WTM London has always been to deliver a global show.
“We are now channelling our energies into the creation of an outstanding, large-scale digital gathering that will enable the travel industry to connect, to network, do business and learn about this new consumer environment.
“We will miss meeting you in person at ExCeL but we have the skills, experience and resources to produce an engaging and effective show to support the industry’s recovery.
“2020 has been a challenging year, but we pledge to do everything we can for the travel industry in 2021 and bring you the best live version of WTM London from the last 40 years”.
Lead image courtesy of Bruno Vieria on Unsplash.