Watch this space: keynote session at WTM London probes space tourism

Sir Richard Branson with Will Whitehorn

Former Virgin Galactic Chairman Will Whitehorn prepares to deliver a keynote address at London Global Travel MarketNovember 7-9, 2022, explore the astronomical potential of space tourism.

Will Whitehorn will lead a session entitled: “Space: the final frontier of travel?” on Tuesday 8 November on the Future Stage of the World Travel Market London.

This will be the first time that WTM London – the world’s largest travel industry event – has featured space travel on its main stage.

Whitehorn will explore whether widespread space tourism is really feasible; what it might look like in the decades to come; and the dizzying 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 yet to be launched.

He will discuss space tourism with British travel journalist Mark Frary, co-author of the book Origins of the Universe for Dummies, and who once worked at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

News of the main session comes as space tourism is once again making international headlines, thanks to Bezos’ Blue Origin, Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Financial services firm UBS has estimated that the space travel market will reach $4 billion by 2030, despite setbacks such as the pandemic.

In August 2022, Blue Origin successfully completed its sixth manned spaceflight, carrying a YouTube star, entrepreneur, mountaineer, technology leader, engineer and telecommunications executive.

However, Virgin Galactic has announced that the launch of its commercial passenger service will be delayed again, this time until the second quarter of 2023.

Virgin Galactic signed a deal in July to allow members of the luxury agent network Virtuoso to sell Virgin Galactic spaceflights – although with seats selling for the standard price of $450,000 the astronomical costs are out of reach of most tourists.

Last September, SpaceX made history by launching the first mission into space with an all-civilian crew in a reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

Will Whitehorn, currently chairman of UKspace – the space trade association – has a remarkable background in the travel industry, having started his career with British Airways Helicopters in 1982. He was a graduate trainee with Thomas Cook before joining Virgin Group as Group Public Relations. Manager in 1987 and became Chairman of Virgin Galactic in 2004, a position he held until 2011.

In addition to his long-standing involvement with Virgin, he has held leadership and board positions in other sectors, such as public relations and communications, science and technology, transport, online real estate agents, games and software, and the space industry.

In September 2019 Whitehorn joined UKspace as chairman, an association which represents the UK space industry, and in January 2022 he was invited to join the UK government’s space advisory board, the UK Space Exploration Advisory Committee (SEAC) which reports to the government. British Space Agency.

Will is Chairman of the world’s first listed space investment firm, 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 prestigious Geoffrey Pardoe Space Award from the Royal Aeronautical Society for his service to the space industry.

Juliette Losardo, Exhibition Director of World Travel Market London, said:

“We are delighted to have Will Whitehorn speak at the World Travel Market on the opportunities surrounding space travel on the new Future Stage. We are honored to have a pioneer like Will join us.

“For so long, space tourism has been a futuristic dream and is becoming a reality – even if only for a handful of travelers; but of course air travel was once viewed in a similar light.

It is important that we seize new leisure opportunities like this, to create a better future for travel. It’s especially empowering as we come out of a period that has forced us to reevaluate what we know to be normal.

“Will’s session will be one of many must-attend events at the Future Stage, which will be dedicated to hosting dynamic, high-calibre speakers focused on travel insights in key industries.

“Registration for WTM London I is now open, offering the opportunity to hear from Will, as well as the wide range of other expert and inspirational speakers we have lined up – as well as the opportunity to mingle with delegates from around the world to discuss trends and do business.”

Register to attend here

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