The Times Destinations: Holiday and Travel show

Written by Jamie Tullett

Britain’s continuing wet and windy weather is getting us all down and for many, the desire to fly off to warmer climes couldn’t be any stronger.

Britain’s continuing wet and windy weather is getting us all down and for many, the desire to fly off to warmer climes couldn’t be any stronger. Whether looking for a short break or a big adventure, The Times Destination Holiday and Travel show at Earl’s Court, one of this year’s highly anticipated travel exhibitions, is full of inspiration for that next holiday of a lifetime and this year saw the biggest exhibition in the show’s history.

The event showcased some of the best brands in travel, with over 300 tourism boards, holiday agents, food and drink retailers and travel health experts filling the venue with exciting and inspriational stall displays. 

Stunning photographs taken from travellers all over the globe were presented in the Wanderlust Travel Photo of the Year exhibition gallery, with further displays from the Lonely Planet Traveller developing the storyboard behind the foundation of the Lonely Planet guide books over 40 years ago, exploring how the original few journeys revolutionised the lives of founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler and inspired their world-renowned travel guides.

Organised and bespoke travel companies littered the arena with vibrant and expressive stalls representing hundreds of the world’s top travel destinations, from Albania to Zanzibar with many in between.

But there weren’t only overseas travel agencies present, with numerous UK-based companies promoting the nation’s beautiful scenary and the diversity of the potential travel destinations in the British Isles, even a stall on UK trips for student budgets!

One such British company present was the Bournemouth Coastal group, who brought with them one of their many tourist attractions, the impressive Bournemouth speed boat.

Celebrity speakers were also present, with interviews with Jeremy Bowen, Martin Bell, Julia Bradbury and Simon Reeve held at the World Entertainment stage across the 4 event days. I was lucky enough to attend the quizzing of Reeve, author and BBC documentary presenter, whom I also managed to speak to myself. 

Simon spoke in depth about his recent BBC programs: ‘The Tea Trail’ and ‘The Coffee Trail,’ as well as the behind-the-scenes danger that he has faced as a travel journalist in his career, such as his fight with malaria in Africa and narrowly avoiding a gun battle in the middle-east.

Having visited almost three quarters of the world’s countries, Simon spoke of how it is ultimately the struggles of the people in societies across the globe that inspire him to visit and tell their story through his work, rather than just providing a “glossy travel program” promoting the scenary.

Speaking of his Australia series, where he visited some of the most remote aboriginal communities, Simon added: “I haven’t seen poverty so disrupting as the problems that the Aboriginal people suffer from in Australia.”

Simon’s real passion for exploring and revealing these problems faced by humanity is humbling and it was truely great to hear his stories about his travels.

In his new documentary, Sacred Rivers, Simon will be looking at some of the world’s most iconic waterways and considering how these have shaped the lives of humanity. 

Not only were well-known travellers present, but the show provided two ‘Meet the experts theatres’ in which expert advice and eye-opening presentations were led by experienced exhibitors from all over the world. 

Time flew by, speaking to the representitives from countries all across the globe, and having been immersed in mere brief highlights of the numerous destinations that I have yet to visit, I came away from this event truly inspired and excited to book a new globetrotting trip very soon.

If you would like to find out the companies that were present at this year’s show you can visit this web site to find information and websites for all the exhibitors. If you’d like to attend the show next year, you can also sign up to the mailing list on the site to be one of the first to hear when tickets are released for the show’s first year in its relocated home, Olympia London. 

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.