On Monday 5th November, I attended the WTM 2012 – an event which, just a fortnight before, I had no idea even existed.

The World Travel Market is a big 4 day event which takes place at the Excel Centre, London, offering a venue for press, travel professionals and companies to meet – just imagine a huge building filled with stalls representing virtually every country you could think of.  And, when I say ‘stalls’ I sometimes mean little palaces of heaven. Observe Fiji:

I could probably live on this stand for the rest of my life

My friend Sophie (from http://luggagetagsandticketstubs.blogspot.co.uk) forced me to sign up a few weeks beforehand. I genuinely had no idea just how big the event is. Before I’d even entered the building I’d decided, thanks to the cacophony of posters lining the DLR station, that my next trip absolutely had to be North Cyprus (“What’s in North Cyprus? I have NO IDEA but the posters have convinced me I need to be there RIGHT THIS MOMENT.”) We quickly decided this was probably the worst event for two poor, unemployed travel writers to attend.

Sophie and I decided to use the WTM to conjure up some more inspiration for our next trips abroad by speaking to various representatives of various countries. However, we quickly discovered that this would involve networking, something which we haven’t yet grasped the hang of yet. (The highlight of the afternoon was probably being asked what sort of things we wrote. Apparently ‘Travel articles’ is a bit of an obvious answer.)

Gradually, though, we got into the swing of things a bit and, for our first event, we didn’t do too badly! We tried tea from Taiwan and a first class Emirates cabin, along with mojitos from Brazil and competitions from Thailand. It was all the fun of a holiday in one afternoon in East London. Every stand had something to gaze at, although Korea’s particularly stood out with musical instruments and robots dancing Gangnam style – if that’s what’s in Korea, I’m off tomorrow!

Sophie’s mojito from Brazil

We even heard Charley Boorman (of ‘Long Way Round’ fame) would be gracing the South African stand during the afternoon. I was pretty excited about this, so managed to force Sophie to walk round the stand searching for him – much to Sophie’s amusement I walked right past him 5 seconds later. I did, however, manage to find his latest motorbike on which he travelled around South Africa for his new Channel 5 series, handily titled ‘Charley Boorman’s African Adventure.’
Charley’s motorbike!

The highlight of the afternoon, for me, was probably speaking to African tribesmen who were representing Kenya. Wearing traditional clothing, they told me it was their first time in London and they’d come over to welcome people over to their country. Seeing people so passionate about where they live is so inspiring, and it gives you a bigger motivation to go visit than a travel guide will ever do!

Leaving the Excel centre brimming with excitement for future adventures was such an uplifting feeling.  There are so many stunning, amazing places out there waiting to be visited that I was starting to feel impatient! But then I had to stop, just for a moment. Feeling impatient is fine, as long as you don’t lose track of the here and now.
Who said London couldn’t be beautiful, too?