WTM London will feature space travel on its main stage
The former President of Virgin Galactic Will Whitehorn is set to present a keynote at World Travel Market London
Will Whitehorn is to lead a session marked: ‘Space: the final travel frontier?’ on Tuesday 8th November on World Travel Market London’s Future Stage.
It will be the first time that WTM London – the largest travel industry event globally – will feature space travel on its main stage.
Whitehorn will explore whether widespread space tourism really is feasible; what it could look like in the decades to come; and the sky-high opportunities for the travel and tourism sector.
The session will also ask if we should even consider space tourism given the climate emergency, and why billionaires such as Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are obsessed with the space race.
Whitehorn will be able to talk about working for Sir Richard Branson and how to sell a dream when the product has not yet been launched.
He will discuss space tourism with UK travel journalist Mark Frary, the co-author of the book The Origins of the Universe for Dummies, and who has previously worked at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.
News of the keynote session comes as space tourism is making international headlines again, thanks to Bezos’ Blue Origin, Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Financial services company UBS has estimated the space travel market will be worth $4 billion by 2030, despite setbacks such as the pandemic.
In August 2022, Blue Origin successfully completed its sixth human spaceflight, carrying a YouTube star, an entrepreneur, a mountaineer, a technology leader, an engineer and a telecommunications executive.
However, Virgin Galactic announced the launch of its commercial passenger service would be delayed again, this time until the second quarter of 2023.
Virgin Galactic signed a deal in July to enable members of the luxury Virtuoso agent network to sell Virgin Galactic space flights – although with seats selling at the standard price of $450,000, the astronomic costs are beyond the reach of most tourists.
Last September, SpaceX made history by launching the first mission to space with an all-civilian crew in a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
Will Whitehorn, currently President of UKspace – the space trade association – has a distinguished track record in the travel sector, having started his career with British Airways Helicopters in 1982. He was a graduate trainee at Thomas Cook before joining Virgin Group as Group Public Relations Manager in 1987 and became President of Virgin Galactic in 2004, a post he held until 2011.
In addition to his long-standing involvement with Virgin, he has held senior positions and board roles in other sectors, such as PR and communications, science and technology, transport, online estate agents, gaming and software, and the space industry.
In September 2019, Whitehorn joined UKspace as President, an association which represents the UK space industry, and in January 2022, he was invited to join the British Government’s space advisory panel, the UK Space Exploration Advisory Committee (SEAC) which reports to the government’s UK space agency.
Will is Chair of the world's first quoted space investment company, Seraphim Space Investment Trust PLC. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, The Marketing Society and Vice-President of The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and holds the Royal Aeronautical Society's prestigious Geoffrey Pardoe Space Award for services to the space industry.
Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director of World Travel Market London, said: “We’re thrilled to have Will Whitehorn deliver a keynote at World Travel Market about the opportunities surrounding space travel on the new Future Stage. We’re honoured that a trailblazer such as Will is joining us".
“For so long, space tourism has been a futuristic dream and it is now becoming a reality – albeit just for a handful of travellers; but of course, air travel was once seen in a similar light".
It’s important that we embrace new opportunities for leisure like this, to drive an improved future for travel. This is particularly thought-provoking as we emerge from a period which forced us to re-evaluate what we know as normal.
“Will’s session will be one of several must-see events on the Future Stage, which will be dedicated to hosting high-calibre, dynamic speakers, focusing on the outlook for travel in key sectors.
“Registration for WTM London I now open, offering the chance to hear from Will, as well as the wide range of other expert and inspirational speakers we have lined up – plus the opportunity to mix with delegates from around the world to discuss trends and do business.”