The first day of the trade show at the Luxury Travel Expo 2009 wrapped up Wednesday with first-time exhibitors saying they'll be mainstays for years to come. We toured the floor from morning to afternoon and noticed a host of newcomers to the show, which showcases the best suppliers in luxury from around the world. And some of them represented destinations that weren’t especially known for luxury tourism until now.
“It was great that so many people discovered that face-to-face opportunities are a must for conducting good, sold business,” said John McMahon, group publisher of Luxury Travel Advisor, the host of the show.
Among the many newcomers were representatives from Tanzania and Croatia. Shamsa Selengia Mwangunga, minister of natural resources and tourism for the United Republic of Tanzania, attended the show to promote luxury in her country, which is becoming a huge destination for Americans in just a short amount of time. In fact, just two years ago the U.S. became Tanzania’s number-one market, overtaking Europe. Last year alone, U.S. arrivals jumped from 58,341 to 66,953.
Part of the reason for the increase is the destination's successful specialist program offered through Travel Agent University. In just two years of operation, the program has seen roughly 1,250 graduating agents. “Agents keep asking about the destination because there is so much interest in Tanzania,” Mwangunga said. “This show is something we will continue to do for years to come. It is really teaching agents that there is a lot of luxury to be sold in Tanzania.”
Mate Dragobratovic knows Croatia doesn’t necessarily have a reputation for luxury and that is why the sales and marketing manager for Villa Dubrovnik chose Luxury Travel Expo to get the message across. “We aren’t really seen for our luxury and that is why we chose to make our first appearance at this show,” said Dragobratovic of his 57-room boutique resort. “This is the perfect place to get the message across that we have luxury resorts for just about every traveler.”