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Monday, 28 March, 2016, 15 : 00 PM [IST]

ITB Berlin celebrates 50th edition with record visitors & sales

ITB Berlin 2016 saw 10,000 exhibiting companies from 187 countries and regions meeting with 120,000 trade visitors in the 26 exhibition halls - the largest number of trade visitors since it was launched in 1966. This 50th edition was marked by the announcement of ITB China which is scheduled to take place in Shanghai from 2017. TravelBiz Monitor presents a sneak peek
ITB Berlin underlined its importance as the leading trade show for the global travel industry as it marked its 50th anniversary. The international travel industry has shown its resilience in the face of the refugee crisis and geopolitical risks, demonstrating that it remains in a robust state as a vigorously expanding industry despite difficult global conditions. Germany, one of the most important source markets for international tourism, the uncertainty of the first weeks of the year was clearly being replaced by a growing confidence. From March 9 to 13, some 10,000 exhibiting companies from 187 countries and regions met with 120,000 trade visitors in the 26 exhibition halls. On the purchasing side, there was also a further increase in the number of decision-makers: two thirds of the trade visitors stated that they held direct authority for all purchasing decisions. Business conducted during the trade show rose from last year’s figure of EUR 6.7 billion to around 7 billion this year.

Record Visitors
Dr. Christian Göke, CEO, Messe Berlin, said, “Never before in its 50 years has ITB Berlin welcomed so many trade visitors to the exhibition halls. After this five-day event trade visitors and exhibitors are leaving Berlin with a clear message: even in times dominated by a ‘sense of uncertainty’ people are not willing to do without their holiday trips. Conversely, over the past few days the travel industry has made it clear that it can provide suitable answers to the major challenges that it currently faces.“ ITB Berlin has again provided evidence that this trade show, a global market place and a platform for personal encounters, provides a “firm foundation for the industry during turbulent times“, and in the digital age too it has lost none of its importance for the travel industry all over the world.

Dr. Göke added, “Currently ITB Berlin is not only one of the most important trade shows taking place in Berlin but, over the past five decades it has been a significant economic factor for our city. This international show has also been a remarkable success story for the trade fair sector in Germany, and this is something of which our company and the Berliners too can be very proud. In terms of its exhibitors and its trade visitors, no other show anywhere in the world has an international structure that can compare in any way with it. ITB Berlin is ‘more than just a trade show’ – today, all over the world, it represents Germany, symbolising hospitality and serving as a practical example of international understanding.”

The 200 events at the ITB Convention were attended by over 26,000 visitors. It was taking place for the 13th time and occupied eight halls on the Exhibition Grounds. The main themes at the ITB Convention, which is regarded as the ‘think tank’ for the international industry, were ‘Travel 4.0’ and the complete digitalisation of all the various business processes of travel companies. The subject of luxury travel attracted a great deal of interest, and discussions also took place about the opportunities and risks facing tourism as a consequence of the influx of refugees to Europe.

Messe Berlin has recently announced, that from May 2017, ITB China will be taking place annually in the populous city of Shanghai in cooperation with that country’s major tour operators and travel agents. The next ITB Berlin will take place from March 8 to 12, 2017. The Official Partner Country will be Botswana.

India: new economic revival through e-Visa

Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism, Government of India, said that the electronic-tourist visa system is already valid for 150 countries and covers every major travel market. Applications can be made directly online. The relaxation of entry formalities means that India is preparing itself for a sharp increase in tourists. Germany is among the top seven travel markets. The biggest growth in visitors is expected from Asia, in particular from China. It is hoped that religious, spa and wedding tourism will attract new visitors.

Humanoid in Travel Trade
With the first appearance in Europe by a humanoid robot from Japan – clad as an elegant trade show hostess – visitors to ITB Berlin were able to see for themselves how engineers and scientists view the future of a service-based industry. Travelzoo undertook a survey to investigate holiday-makers’ acceptance of robots, in which 6,200 people from nine countries took part. The result was that most people would have no problems encountering a robot on their holidays. Respondents saw their advantages as being able to process information faster, zero fatigue, and being able to communicate in several languages.

Some of the prominent speakers at ITB were Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society; Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Professor Dr. Hans-Werner Sinn, President, ifo Institute – Leibniz-Institute for Economic Research.

According to provisional estimate, some 60,000 members of the public took advantage of the wide range of information available from tour operators, including those representing niche markets. This trade show was a meeting place for politicians from Germany and many other countries, as well as for many diplomats. In addition to 124 delegations, it was attended by the members of 4 royal houses, 48 ministers and 87 ambassadors from all over the world.

Inside View

taleb refai Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary ITB continues to reflect the vision and leadership of the tourism sector. We at UNWTO are very pround to have ITB as a strong partner and thank the whole team at ITB for their contribution to making the tourism sector more competitive and also more responsible and sustainable.

Dr. Michael Frenzel, President, Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW)
On this significant anniversary ITB again showed how important face-to-face meetings remain in an increasingly digitalised world. The general mood and the many discussions that took place at this trade show confirmed our optimistic outlook for 2016. The tourism industry, both in Germany and around the world, is in an ideal situation, there is a wider choice than ever before, the mood among consumers is positive, and Germans prefer to spend their money on travel, as was confirmed this week by the consumer research organisation GfK. Provided that we as an industry stick together, and politics does its part to get a grip on the very real challenges presented by the influx of refugees, 2016 will be another good year for travel.

nobert fiebigNorbert Fiebig, President, German Travel Association (DRV)
This year the world’s largest travel trade show was the focus of general interest to a greater degree than ever, because security and travel were among the dominant topics at this leading international trade show. ITB is not only a market place for destinations, but also a vital yardstick for assessing the level of bookings for the coming travel season. Where are Germans travelling to, what are their summer holiday destinations? During ITB answers to these questions can always be accurately deduced on the basis of reports about the latest trends. I am pleased to say that most destinations continue to expand their business. Whereas at the start of the year people were uncertain, leading to hesitancy in making bookings for certain countries, many of the participants in this trade show expressed their confidence that, over the next few months, many customers would make decisions at short notice in favour of those destinations where there has so far been some hesitancy. Despite all the challenges that it faces, I am convinced that this travel year offers a great deal of potential and will achieve very positive overall results.
haris mohammedHaris Mohammed, Acting MD, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation
On behalf of the Maldives and our entire tourism industry, I would like to thank and congratulate you for a wonderful ITB Berlin 2016. We are very pleased that we were the partner country of ITB Berlin 2016 that marked the 50th anniversary of ITB Berlin as well as the Visit Maldives Year 2016, in which we celebrate the tourism industry in our beautiful country.We look back at a very successful trade show through which we were able to present the Maldives as the world’s leading island destination. We invite the world to experience our wonderful tropical beaches, our culture and the warmth of our people as well as our unique hospitality in some of the best resorts around the globe. We very much look forward to building our continued success story in Germany as well as in our other important source markets to showcase everything that make our country one of the leading travel destinations in the world.

Partnership agreement with Argentina: LGBT
Argentina and ITB Berlin entered into a strategic partnership for the worldwide promotion of sexual diversity in travel. At the signing, Gustavo Santos, Minister of Tourism Argentina spoke of a “sign of freedom, love and diversity.” Argentina has its own chamber of commerce for gay and lesbian companies and was represented at the show with its own LGBT stand. For many years, ITB Berlin has devoted a segment to this fast-growing market.

IIPT India confers ‘Celebrating Her’ Global Awards for Empowered Women
The IIPT (International Institute for Peace Through Tourism) India organised ‘Celebrating Her’ Global Awards for Empowered Women at ITB Berlin 2016. The awards recognised the contribution of five exceptional women globally, “Not because they’re better, but because they’re equal”. TravelBiz Monitor was the exclusive Media Partner for IIPT India ‘Celebrating Her’ Awards

In association with UNWTO and ITB Berlin, IIPT India conducted the first Global Awards for Empowered Women in Tourism on March 11 at ITB Berlin under the title “Celebrating Her”.

  • Dr. Nicole Haeusler, Consultant for Responsible Tourism, Myanmar for Community Based Tourism
  • Aileen Clemente, President of Rajah Travel, Philippines for Tourism and Peace
  • Dr. Dietlind von Lassberg, Vice Chairwoman of Institute for Tourism & Development, Germany for Tourism Education
  • Jane Ashton, Director of Sustainability, TUI Group, UK for Tourism Sustainability
  • Valsa Nair Singh, Secretary Tourism, Government of Maharashtra for Innovation in Tourism

Five exceptional women from across the world, including one from India, were felicitated at the award ceremony where Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO, delivered the keynote address and Vinod Zutshi, Secretary Tourism, Government of India was the Guest of Honour. The event was coordinated and moderated by Anita Mendiratta, author and international consultant on tourism, Special Advisor to the Secretary General UNWTO and Member IIPT India Advisory Council.

In her welcome address, Rika Jean-Francois, CSR Commissioner for ITB Berlin, said that one of the major parts of CSR is Gender Equality which has been often neglected. “There are so many women in the backyard of tourism that never have a chance to be in the spot light, in spite of being the backbone of the industry. These awards for the first time provide a platform for their empowerment and encouragement.” 

In his address Ajay Prakash, President IIPT India, paid a tribute to Dr. Louis D’Amore, President, IIPT. Elaborating on the theme of the awards, Prakash said, “To realise the dream of peace through tourism, the industry needs to look beyond revenues, footfalls or room nights and rise to attain its higher purpose – that of breaking barriers and connecting people… and of recognising the one fundamental truth: that you cannot build anything lasting or meaningful if you ignore or sideline half the population of the world –women.” Women and children, he added, were the first and worst victims of conflict but “Celebrating Her” was about empowering more women to attain positions of power and get into decision-making roles.”

Dr. Rifai acknowledged and thanked the winners for their efforts to make the world a better place. “For tourism to make a meaningful contribution to peace the challenges of gender equality and ensuring women empowerment must form a crucial part of tourism policy and strategy,” said Dr. Rifai. He urged the audience to make a conscious effort to recognise and celebrate the role of women in tourism “Not because they are better,” he said, “But because they are equal.”

Dr. Taleb Rifai, Vinod Zutshi, Rika Jean-Francois, Ajay Prakash and Kiran Yadav – Vice President IIPT India, presented the mementos to the winners.

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