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World's Largest Travel Exhibition

Execs talk about ITB Berlin 2011 experience

Nelson Alcantara, eTN editor-in-chief  Mar 15, 2011

This year’s edition of ITB Berlin has come and gone, and Messe Berlin, the event’s organizer has said this year welcomed approximately 170,000 visitors, orders with a volume in excess of six billion euros, and a “good mood among exhibitors.” Over 40% of buyers from abroad participated and some 7,000 journalists from 94 countries accredited, which Messe Berlin says is a record attendance at the ITB Berlin Convention.

Held in Berlin this year from March 9 to 13, the 45th ITB Berlin came to a close after attracting a significantly larger number of buyers from abroad and the best exhibitor figures ever, said Messe Berlin. “Despite the rail strike, the leading international trade show for the travel industry reported that trade visitor numbers remained stable at last year’s level. The good volume of business at the trade show provided an additional boost to the current upturn in the tourism sector.”

Dr. Christian Göke, Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, was able to look back on a successful event: “Each year ITB Berlin attracts growing numbers of international decision-makers. Nowadays over 40 percent of buyers come from abroad. As a result, ITB Berlin cannot only claim the most balanced and international range of exhibitors, but it is also the industry’s most international event in terms of its trade visitors. These are the ideal prerequisites for business success, and we believe that exhibitors achieved a significantly larger volume of business than they did last year, with a value of over six billion euros.”

Jan Wawrzyniak, Director of the Polish Tourism Office in Germany, summarized his impressions as follows: “It is a wonderful feeling to be the partner country. We should have signed a partnership agreement for two years. There is now even greater interest in Poland. We held successful discussions, and ITB Berlin has given us an additional boost.”

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization said: “ITB Berlin had a special relevance this year, coming on the tail of the recent developments in Egypt and Tunisia, two important tourism destinations. As we welcomed the new Egypt and Tunisia at ITB 2011, I was struck by the remarkable demonstrations of solidarity shown by the international tourism community to these two destinations. ITB Berlin has also confirmed the rising confidence among the tourism sectors, with 2011 set to consolidate the impressive tourism growth of 2010. Against this background, ITB has again proven the ideal stage for UNWTO to launch new initiatives, including the first ever Silk Road Ministers’ Summit."

Klaus Laepple, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW), said: “All the signs point to a continued upturn in the tourism industry as a whole and specifically at ITB Berlin. This is borne out by the outstanding number of exhibitors and visitor attendance figures at the world’s largest travel trade show. Positive news and forecasts were a prominent feature this year of the travel industry’s pre-eminent meeting place, although, of course, attention also focused on the political developments in North Africa, which were also the subject of many discussions. There was a very emotional reaction, great consternation, and sympathy in reaction to the news of the terrible consequences of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.”

Jürgen Büch, President of the German Travel Association (DRV), said: “Once again ITB Berlin has shown that it is the meeting place for the international tourism sector. Not only can trends be investigated here, innovations displayed, and visions of the future discussed, but ITB Berlin is also the central marketplace where trade visitors can prepare for business, sign agreements, and enter into joint ventures. Moreover it is also the most important forum for everyone involved in tourism, where they can make contacts and hold discussions. It illustrates the importance of business travel in our industry. Despite the major role that new media play in day-to-day business, personal contacts and direct confidential discussions are still indispensible. This is also evident from the many discussions about the current upheavals in North Africa and especially in the two popular destinations of Egypt and Tunisia that have taken place at the trade show. The talks that were held in Berlin have helped to provide a clearer picture of the impact. The tourism industry’s trade association is convinced that neither of these countries has lost its appeal and that demand for them will soon return to previous levels.”

Tunisian Tourism Minister Mehdi Houas said: “This is my first ITB Berlin. I am touched and overwhelmed by so much sympathy and so many discussions. My country has found many new friends. It was a significant moment for me to attend ITB 2011, an ITB at which Tunisia was quite rightly honored. The contacts, the press conferences, and the meetings with ministers from other countries enabled me to obtain a clearer picture of the international tourism market. Despite the many difficulties confronting us, nevertheless some very real opportunities exist for those who are prepared to take them. The information obtained through the UNWTO is of a very high quality and will be extremely useful for us. We are very grateful for such a professional and pleasant standard of organization.“

Philippines Tourism Minister Alberto Aldaba Lima said: “For some months now tourism has enjoyed a new and higher standing. And ITB Berlin is a very good forum for new contacts and business. I have a very confident feeling.”

Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the German National Tourist Board (DZT), said: ”For Germany as a travel destination, ITB Berlin 2011 was a thoroughgoing success and strengthens our efforts to continue to develop our position as one of the most popular destinations in Europe. However, the delight at the great popularity and the appeal of our country that was particularly evident this year at the world’s largest travel trade show was overshadowed by the news currently reaching us from Japan and which has come as a great shock to us. Our thoughts are now with our DZT staff in Japan, with their families, and with our Japanese friends, colleagues, and business associates.

Spanish Tourism Board Director Manuel Butler said: “We are satisfied. We are expecting German tour operators to achieve good increases in 2011. The slightly negative trend in the number of visitors to Spain has been halted. Our mood is terrific.”

Özgür Özaslan, Deputy State Secretary at the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, said: “ITB Berlin is a good trade show among friends. We still have very good memories of ITB Berlin 2010 when we were the partner country. That brought us additional recognition.”

Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said: “Once again ITB Berlin has proved its importance for the worldwide travel industry. Our presence at the trade show in Berlin was again highly successful, and it is ITB Berlin in particular where we meet with industry experts, business partners, and customers from our key markets. For many years, the largest trade show participation by Emirates outside its home market has been in Germany. The new Airbus A380 display area with the on-board lounge and spa shower on our stand has met with a very positive response among our customers, visitors to the show, and the media.“

Airberlin CEO Joachim Hunold said: “I am more than satisfied with the airberlin presentation at this year’s ITB. Apart from the many good discussions, the airberlin stand in Hall 9 was again a magnet for media representatives from all over the world, and for decision-makers from the tourism sector. Improved standards of comfort throughout the airberlin fleet and the expansion of our network through our partnerships with airlines such as Finnair, American Airlines, and S7 all met with a good response and are evidence of our efforts to continue to expand this business sector. We have also announced our intention of making our flights even more eco-friendly in 2011 and to reduce fuel consumption to a record low of 3.5 liters/100 passenger kilometers.”

Gisela Thomas, Tourism Department of the Argentine Embassy in Berlin, said: “This was a wonderful trade show! We at the embassy staged three outstanding events with the Argentine delegation and all of them were very well attended. The mood in the Latin America pavilion is always fantastic.”

Valentin Kavakure, Chief Promotion Officer of the Burundi Tourism Office, said: “For the first time in decades Burundi was once again represented with its own stand at ITB Berlin. I am delighted with the degree of professionalism with which this trade show is organized. I am very satisfied with our progress at this event and would be even more satisfied if we can succeed in retaining our new contacts with our partners in Germany. Our plan is to return each year to ITB Berlin in the future.

Luz Elena Coloma, CEO of Quito Turismo, Ecuador, said: “I was attending this trade fair for the first time, because this is also the first time that Quito, the capital of Ecuador, has been promoted here independently. This is a massive trade show and a unique opportunity to make contact with the industry and the trade, with interested parties in Europe, and also with people from our own country who one does not meet as often as one would like.“

According to Messe Berlin, the two high-level meetings of ministers ensured that international politics and diplomacy were strongly represented at this year’s ITB Berlin. The “UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Summit” played a decisive part in efforts to promote the long term tourism development of the Silk Road region. This year’s ITB Berlin also hosted the first “Ministers’ Summit on Climate Change in Asia-Pacific.”

The countries of North Africa used this industry-meeting place to re-stimulate the vital tourism sector, added Messe Berlin. “Egypt introduced a new advertising campaign that focuses on the peaceful democratization process taking place in the country. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami cast a shadow over the otherwise extremely positive mood in the 26 exhibition halls. From mid-day Saturday onwards the Japan stand was closed.”

Messe Berlin estimates that 11,163 exhibiting companies and organizations from 188 countries participated, up from 2010’s 11,127 from 187 countries. The next ITB Berlin will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, March 7 to 11, 2012, with Egypt signing up as the partner country. This year, it was Poland that won the bid to be ITB Berlin’s partner country.

Execs talk about ITB Berlin 2011 experience
Photo by Nelson Alcantara

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