1 -3 November 2021

The History of WTM London

WTM London has grown beyond belief in the past four decades. 40 countries, 221 exhibitors and 9,000 trade visitors took part in the first ever WTM at London Olympia in 1980. Two moves (Earls Court in 1992 and ExCeL in 2002) and 40 years later, now WTM London facilitates £2.8 billion in industry deals and has around 5,000 exhibitors from 182 countries and regions and more than 51,000 participants.

1980

The WTM launch event at Olympia

WTM’s launch event at Olympia was opened by the Duke of Kent and Miss World, Kimberly Santos of Guam. The Duke astounded everybody when he visited the Oklahoma stand by putting on a full-length Native American headdress. It was counter to his reputation and the picture appeared in every national newspaper. It is deemed to be the making of World Travel Market.

1981

Princess Alexandra opens WTM

Princess Alexandra opened WTM to a near riot among Sun newspaper readers when a consumer promotion went wrong.

1985

Princess Diana opens the event

The opening ceremony was standing room only drawing its biggest crowd to date to watch Princess Diana opened the event. Princess Diana had just given birth to the youngest of her sons, Prince Harry. "She was the most famous woman in the world. The security was fearsome... Everybody wanted to be there. You couldn't move because she made such an impact."

1989

WTM celebrates its 10th anniversary with Princess Anne opening the show

The Princess, alongside exhibitors and visitors, were shocked when anti-Apartheid protestors evaded security to drop leaflets on her head. The protestors also painted Olympia’s doors with red paint.

1992

WTM moves to Earls Court

WTM becomes so popular that a decision is made immediately after WTM 1990 to consider an alternative venue. The event moved to Earls Court two years later.

1992

Launch of WTM Meridian Club

WTM launches the Meridian Club, an exclusive club for the industry’s senior travel buyers. Designed to aid negotiations with exhibitors, Meridian Club launched with almost 7,000 members. By 2008 it had almost 11,000 members.

1994

Launch of environment awareness day

Now known as World Responsible Tourism Day, was launched to encourage greater debate on green issues.

1998

Just a Drop was founded by WTM chairman Fiona Jeffery

WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery founded international water-aid charity Just a Drop on behalf of the travel industry. The charity raises desperately needed funds to build wells, bore holes, hand pumps and run health and sanitation programmes throughout the world. The charity has raised more than £1million and supported 900,000 people in 28 countries.

2000

WTM celebrates its 21st birthday

WTM Chairman Fiona Jeffery founded international water-aid charity Just a Drop on behalf of the travel industry. The charity raises desperately needed funds to build wells, bore holes, hand pumps and run health and sanitation programmes throughout the world. The charity has raised more than £1million and supported 900,000 people in 28 countries.

2002

WTM moves from Earls Court to ExCel London

Visitors were welcomed by the then Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. The opening was performed by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. The world-famous Irish dance group Riverdance provided the entertainment, underlining ExCeL’s dockside location by the River Thames.

2004

Environmental awareness day was renamed World Responsible Tourism Day

WTM celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Environmental Awareness Day - which pioneered education of green issues at World Travel Market over 15 years - was renamed World Responsible Tourism Day.

2007

WTM Hosted the first UNWTO Ministers' summit on tourism and climate change

This was a key part of an international programme to widen and deepen the debate on climate change when they agreed a declaration and presented to the UN’s Climate Summit in Bali a month later.

2009

Boris Johnson opens the event

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, opens World Travel Market on its 30th birthday.

2010

WTM Speed Networking was introduced

The highly successful WTM Speed Networking session was introduced, matching buyers and exhibitors for quick business meetings on the first day of the event.

2013

The Travel Technology Show and a Taste of ILTM at WTM was launched

WTM was expanded to be the biggest and best yet with the introduction of the new The Travel Technology Show at WTM and the luxury showcase A Taste of ILTM at WTM.

2016

WTM London is revamped as a 3 day event

Following exhibitor and visitor feedback and an unprecedented period of growth, WTM London was revamped as a three day event.

What do visitors gain?

Expand your business network and hear from industry leaders about travel trends and innovations.

Showcase your destination

Gain exposure and promote your culture to 51,000 visitors from the travel industry.