ILTM highlights growth in luxe sector

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Anyone with any doubts about whether the luxury travel sector is still booming need look no further than this year's luxe-focused main events.

Indeed, luxury travel leaders at the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM) Americas event at the Mayakoba resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, used the platform to highlight their ambitious and seemingly unstoppable plans for growth.

Hyatt Hotels announced its first Park Hyatt properties in Mexico: one to be developed in Los Cabos and the other in Mexico City.

Six Senses talked about its plans to move farther into the Americas with an eye on sites in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico, to name a few.

Belmond, which in just a few weeks is planning a major branding announcement, said it still hopes to nearly double its portfolio in the near future.

Accor detailed a long list of luxury developments in the pipeline, which includes a number of new properties in the Fairmont portfolio it acquired last year.

And the ILTM organization itself, which in the past six years has quadrupled its portfolio of events from two to eight, is planning another round of tweaks and expansions.

At the opening of ILTM Americas, portfolio director Alison Gilmore let it slip that the popular collection will soon be announcing the launch of an LGBT-focused event, which will be held in London in June.

While the new show, which she said would be formally announced during World Travel Market, won't be quite as singularly luxe focused as the rest of the ILTM shows, she said it would definitely center on high-end travel.

The LGBT event also will have a slightly different format than the others, which are focused almost exclusively on prescheduled, speed dating style meetings and, of course, lots of parties. It will also have a more educational component for both buyers and sellers.

Gilmore said ILTM is renaming its ILTM Americas as ILTM North America. Going forward that event will target only travel professionals from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, where she says the luxury travel market is growing almost a third faster than the overall travel industry.

At the same time, ILTM Sao Paolo will broaden to become ILTM Latin America, a change she said was driven by economic rebounds in Argentina and Brazil.

In Asia earlier this year, ILTM relaunched ILTM Asia as ILTM Asia-Pacific and moved that show from China to Singapore. At the same time, it launched ILTM China, which Gilmore said has the potential to outgrow ILTM's flagship Cannes event in just a few years. ILTM Cannes last year hosted more than 3,000 travel professionals and suppliers, the largest gathering since its founding 16 years ago.

Another growth market: the Middle East, where ILTM this year held its first, albeit small, ILTM Arabia during Arabian Travel Market.

The by-invitation-only ILTM Collection, Gilmore said, is especially important as the number of luxury travelers increase and their demands grow more diverse.

ILTM, she said, "helps today's travel planners get inside the heads of these high net worth travelers to plan the itineraries of tomorrow that appeal to all age groups and all segments of the market.

"Don't let anyone tell you differently," Gilmore said. Luxury travel, she said, "is absolutely booming."

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