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What am I doing here? Revisiting the World Travel Market in London

Vago Damitio. What am I doing here?
Writing about London, from Sefrou
21 NOV 2012

Hard to believe the world is going to end in just a month – or not. One thing for certain though, the world is a big, wide, wonderful place.  If you don’t believe me on that, all you have to do is take a visit to the World Travel Market in London or one of the other massive global travel shows that take place in various cities around the world.

My main purpose in visiting the WTM was to research new destinations to write about, find interesting destinations, and to connect with the businesses and tourist boards for those regions so that when we do have writers visit, we can get the best possible information and resources to share with you, our readers.  My secondary purpose was to travel the entire world by going to one destination.

Miss Trinidad and Tobago I’m happy to report that both goals were met. I was fortunate to visit Trinidad and Tobago – home of the lovely ladies you see here and a fascinating mix of Caribbean, Indian, British, and African cultures.  I jumped to Bermuda, Guyana, Costa Rica, and Mexico before discovering the Maya and Inca trails of  Guatemala, Honduras,  and Central America. In Brazil I was able to drink great coffee and stiff rum and down the road in California, I indulged in some great wines before heading to Vegas to see show girls and Elvis and finally on to Florida for some Disney and Cuban culture.

Tripping around to Asia, I marveled in the beauty of Sri Lanka and felt the spiritual buzz of India’s many regions. I stopped by Japan and then enjoyed some traditional treats in Taipei City before heading on over to the smiling bartender of the Philippines.

WTM SRi LankaI trekked through Nepal, and of course, I had to visit the magnificent islands of the Maldives and the Seychelles before I wandered into the storybook land of the human happiness index – Bhutan.
In Africa I journeyed through the Serengeti  witnessed the great migration in Kenya, Tanzania. The spices of Zanzibar, the mystique of Mozambique, and the party life and wild life of sensational South Africa. Old friends were there and I enjoyed visiting Egypt and Morocco with Henna and Pyramids before moving on to the exotic Middle East. Ultra modern Dubai, Iraq, making it’s way back – after all, the cradle of the world. Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, and the UAE – Syria…not there, but my old friend Turkey filling one of the biggest areas of the entire show. Turkey – so magnificent, so big. Everyone is going to go to Turkey.

London India Travel MarketAustralia, New Zealand, and the sparse regions of the Pacific islands – not very settled. Not very present at the show…too far away I think, but the Aussies were serving plenty of cold beer and at times, the entire show felt like Burning Man.  Different camps and different parties. Fantastic.

London WTM at Excel centerDon’t think that I’ve forgotten about Europe.  I spent time exploring the churches, wines, and culture of Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan before jumping into Siberian adventures and back into Russia where I was taught to weave and shown the wonders of a land that might be the most exotic of them all in my mind. Then it was onward, Westward…to Poland, Spain, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, and don’t forget beautiful, quirky, lovely little Belgium.

From there, North, North to Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the ice fields, volcanoes, and little people (elves) of Iceland. The cold Atlantic sister island to my beloved Hawaii. Yes, I must go to Iceland…I must feel this place.  I must go.

World Travel Market SeminarsAnd, the added benefit of leaving each day to be in magnificent London, the world’s best theme park and to have each end of my trip buffered by visits to Marseille and Aix-en-Province in France. My life really is magnificent. I admit it. I’ll be telling you about some of the amazing places I stayed and saw soon.

There were fantastic talks, seminars, and booths and exhibitors who focused on the cutting edge of where travel is headed in the coming years. The Social Travel Market was gangbusters and told me one thing in particular – those that don’t adapt, are certain to die in the age of mobile and social travel.  Don’t expect to see many travel blogs in the coming years – a few will survive and most will become relics that die as the owners decide to skip paying the $14 domain registration fees each year. If you want to see some of what I’m talking about, you can watch most of the sessions on the WTM YouTube channel.

Photo from Hostelbookers party courtesy of Hostelbookers
That’s me in the hat between  Melissa Ruttanai and Neil Freidman. Paul Dow is on the left at the Hostel Bookers Party in Soho.

In a word, I just have to say, the WTM was magnificent. the chance to meet people from all over the world. The opportunity to meet friends and colleagues – new, old, and future. It was a wonderful opportunity. There were plenty of parties (like this one, photo and drinks courtesy of Hostel Bookers) where we all got to relax and enjoy life.

But all of this leads me to the inevitable conclusion. What did I learn at the World Travel Market in London?  Is there a hot list for destinations for Vagobond or that we recommend to our readers in 2013. There is indeed.  Here is what we want to see and do in 2013.

Here it is – our hot-list Top 10 for 2013!

1) Tanzania and Zambia Photo Safaris
2) Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Holidays
3) Iceland Walking Tours
4) Honduras Eco Tours
5) Sri Lanka for pretty much everything
6) Hyderabad and Anwar Pradesh in India
7) 7000 Islands of fun in the Philippines – all of them
8) Siberian Tribal Adventures
9) The Maldives – Luxury Travel
10) Armenia – exploring the food and culture of the first Christian land

There was so much more to share…but hopefully, I can share it all in person over time.

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Vago Damitio

Mr. Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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