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World's Largest Travel Exhibition

ITB Berlin: Go big or go home!

Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief  Mar 09, 2011

BERLIN (eTN) - In the game of who can put on the world’s largest travel exhibition in the world, Germany’s Messe Berlin surely knows how to put the motto, “Go big or go home!” to work. By Messe Berlin’s last count, exhibitors for this year's edition of ITB Berlin are expected to exceed over 11,000 companies and organizations from 180 countries, presented in 26 multi-level halls.

Messe Berlin said the number are “pretty close to 2010’s levels.” Last year, ITB Berlin generated some 6 billion euros (approximately US$8.3 billion) worth of business transactions during the four-day event. "This year we are expecting about the same amount," said Astrid Ehring, Messe Berlin's press officer.

This year, Messe Berlin is proudly parading the slogan, “Everybody is here.” And, rightfully so, as the ITB Berlin organizer said: “As the world’s biggest, and most important, international travel trade fair – not to mention the leading event in the travel industry calendar in terms of number and variety of meetings, workshops, seminars, etc – ITB Berlin acts as the barometer of trends in the global market place.”

At the event’s opening ceremony, held on March 8, 2011, the secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, Mr. Taleb Rifai, has said that “the next ten years look set to be ‘the decade of travel and tourism.’”

The UNWTO secretary-general said: “The first decade of the twenty first century was a decade of extraordinary tourism growth, but also of severe shocks: a decade that began with September 11 and ended with global economic crisis.”

He added: “Now – with recovery underway and international tourist arrivals up by 7% in 2010 – is the time to look forward and ask what the next ten years hold for our sector.”

Meeting at ITB against a “background of a recovering economy and significant geopolitical shifts”, the world is faced with the diverse and complex challenges of unbalanced economic growth, high unemployment, rising oil prices and the environmental imperative. As world leaders face up to these challenges, tourism can lead “a new decade of fairer, stronger and more sustainable growth” according to the UNWTO head, “and be one the most effective agents of development.”

He also said, “As traditional economic sectors lose dynamism, it is clear that a second wave of service sectors, including tourism, are emerging. And these will be some of the most dynamic and economically significant industries and development agents of this decade.”

ITB Berlin is taking place now until March 13, 2011 at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds from 10am to 6pm. Trade visitors are welcome during the first four days, March 9 to 13; then the exhibition is open for the general public on the last two days, March 12 to 13.

ITB Berlin:  Go big or go home!
ITB Berlin 2011 (photo by Nelson Alcantara)

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