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Friday, 11 November 2011

The World comes to London

“Are you going to Ethiopia?”
 “No, Turkey, then a quick look at China.”

There were some surreal conversations floating round this week at World Travel Market in Docklands, where thousands of travel professionals rubbed shoulders with government ministers and journalists.
Despite – or perhaps because of – the recession, attendance was up by 5% overall, and exhibitors were working hard to get their messages across. Exotic national costumes were everywhere; a Turkish hotel group, Lykia, even hosted a belly-dancing masterclass (left) as a taster of what's on offer to guests at their Antalya establishment. Amongst all the razzamatazz, one small stand representing Libya caught my eye. The company, Arkno Tours, is hoping to run trips there come the spring.

Encouragingly,  many more companies seem to be embracing sustainable tourism – and not just with hotel messages such as: ‘Water is precious. Do you need your towels replaced every day?’
The need for this was brought home by the Travel Foundation's massive copy of Rodin’s sculpture, The Thinker (left). Artist Dan Broadley created this using 1.100 plastic water bottles – the number the Ascos Coral Beach Hotel in Paphos was handing out to guests every day during the summer season. Cyprus doesn’t have the infrastructure to recycle large amounts of plastic, and landfill sites are filling up. The hotel decided to offer visitors carafes and reuseable cups instead, and more than 20 other local hotels are now doing the same. A small change with a big impact.

And tourism’s next ‘hot destinations’? Despite some local problems, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Argentina are all being tipped. For British tourists though, travel journalist Simon Calder might be nearer the mark with his suggestion that the popularity of Croatia and Spain will continue.

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