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ITB Berlin 2009 – stronger than ever

eTN Staff Writer  Mar 16, 2009

“More market players visited the leading platform of the international travel industry than ever before. In times of rapid structural changes and highly-competitive markets, they focused on gaining a comprehensive market overview and on new business approaches. Thus, unlike many other industries, the travel sector is actively responding to the challenges. Trade visitor attendance remained high, proof of ITB Berlin’s resilience even in economically-difficult times. We are delighted that there was an increase in visitors from abroad. Once again, ITB Berlin re-established itself as the world’s leading travel trade show,” said Dr. Christian Göke, chief operating officer of Messe Berlin.
From March 11-15, 11,098 companies from 187 countries (2008: 11,147 companies from 186 countries) exhibited their products and services and discussed their future market strategies. Of the 110,857 trade visitors who attended (110,322), 42 percent came from abroad, an increase of four percent. Once again, record numbers took part in the convention. This year’s figure was 12,000, compared with 11,000 in 2008.

“Clearly we were once again able to address urgent problems and topical market issues with leading experts. The result was a global survey of the market and possible scenarios for solutions,” Dr. Göke added.

Crowds thronged the halls over the weekend as well. Approximately 68,114 members of the public (67,569 in 2008) came to find out about travel destinations and products and services from around the world. Overall attendance in the display halls was 178,971 (177,891 in 2008).

Despite the global financial crisis, there was a positive mood among exhibitors, who were satisfied with business at ITB Berlin. According to a representative survey carried out by Fachhochschule Eberswalde during the fair, six out of ten exhibitors said the recession had had no impact on their business. However, they said that travel behavior would change. 52 percent of exhibitors expected tourists to take even shorter trips, 60 percent believed local tourism would boom, and 68 percent expected demand for last-minute travel to increase. More than half of the exhibitors claimed they were currently adapting their products to suit changing conditions, for which ITB Berlin is the ideal venue. According to a survey by an independent market research institute, more than 87 percent (85) of exhibitors obtained a positive impression of the fair. As in 2008, even before this year’s fair had ended, 91 percent said they would be back next year at ITB Berlin.


Dr. h.c. Fritz Pleitgen, general manager of Ruhr.2010 GmbH:
“We are very grateful that ITB Berlin had the courage to accept us as their partner region and are pleased we could fulfill the high expectations. We ourselves were curious as to whether we could keep up with the exotic countries at the fair, but things went extremely well. We received a lot of praise for our opening ceremonies. Interest in our region increased noticeably. There were significantly more people at our stand than at our individual displays in previous years. Coming to Berlin was worth our while. I always say that if you can make it therel you can make it anywhere.”

Axel Biermann, managing director of Ruhr Tourismus GmbH, added:
“We at Ruhr Tourismus GmbH are extremely satisfied with the way ITB Berlin 2009 went. The reactions to Metropole Ruhr as the ITB partner region were positive throughout. Our opening event and the trade fair display were very well received. Several large tour operators have agreed to long-term collaboration with our region. Trade visitors, members of the media and the general public all expressed very keen interest. We believe that ITB Berlin has helped us take a huge stride forward en route to our mid-term goal of establishing Metropole Ruhr as an attractive travel destination.”


Klaus Laepple, president of the German Tourism Industry Federation (BTW) and of the German Travel Association (BTW):
“This year there will be huge challenges facing the global economy. Against this backdrop it is impossible to offer any sound predictions for tourism this year. What is certain is that the tourism industry has already overcome many crises, and this is where ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade show, plays a major part. This is the venue where during the last few days the foundations were being laid for the future. There was short-term, as well as long-term business in particular being concluded. Equally, there were discussions about companies finding strategies and measures to react to the current situation and about stimulating the market by optimizing products and quality. In such difficult times, it is especially important to maintain existing relations and networks and build new contacts, for which ITB is ideal. This year, ITB Berlin once again gave a clear signal, and as such the industry is well equipped to face the future.”


Trade visitors’ reactions to the range of products and services at ITB Berlin were even more positive than last year. 79 percent (77 in 2008) rated it either “excellent” or “good.” 94 percent (93 in 2008) were satisfied with their visit to the fair and 95 percent (94 in 2008) would recommend it to friends or colleagues. At 92 percent, the proportion of trade visitors planning to return to ITB Berlin next year increased (2008: 88).


ITB Berlin is an international media event. In addition to international news agencies, some 7,700 journalists from 87 countries were at the fair. Representatives of politics and the diplomatic services attended the world’s largest travel trade show in large numbers. 178 (176 in 2008) members from 100 countries representing politics and the diplomatic services attended ITB Berlin, among them 77 ambassadors, 85 ministers and 16 state secretaries.
The next ITB Berlin will take place from Wednesday, March 10 to Sunday, March 14, 2010, with Turkey as its partner country.


Pilar Cano, president of the Central American Tourism Agency (CATA):
“All those involved praised the outstanding quality of talks with customers. Thus at ITB Berlin 2009, the global recession was not just negative but had a positive impact for Central America, too. This year, our aim is to increase the number of operators offering tours to Central America by 20 percent. We are delighted that Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala have been so successful, but we also want to bring El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua into the picture.”

Nabil Sultan, senior vice president, commercial operations, Emirates:
“ITB Berlin is a driving force for the travel industry. It is important for us to be in Berlin and to stand by the fair in these challenging times. ITB Berlin is an ideal place to meet business partners and contacts from our key markets."

Sandra Morales, deputy director of tourism offices in Mexico City:
“From our point of view, the first day of the fair was rather quiet, but after that there was keen interest in our stand. Our exhibitors reported doing good business and meeting new trade visitors from around the world. We are delighted that Mexico is in demand, particularly with German operators and tourists. The open days on the weekend are great fun.”

Birgit Koller-Hartl, director of Österreich Werbung Deutschland GmbH:
“ITB Berlin is the top event in international terms, too. It is our most important fixture, next to WTM and BIT in Milan. From the size of our stand, one could probably see that it was also the show that was most important for us. We booked 1,000 square meters and had 38 exhibitors sharing the combined display of Österreichwerbung.”

Jan Wawrzyniak, director of the Polish tourism organization, the Polish tourism board:
“With stands covering more than 1,500 square meters, Poland was one of the larger exhibitors at ITB Berlin. The entire hall has been ours for several years now, and I hope we will be here for the foreseeable future. This is the most important event and most important market. The whole world and the entire travel industry is represented at ITB Berlin. For us it is very important that it is held in Berlin, the capital of Germany, and that there are many visitors from Berlin and Brandenburg on the open days of the event, as Germans make up more than 37 percent of all foreign tourists in Poland.”

Akbar Al Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways:
“It always fascinates me to be at ITB Berlin; our press conference is like a family reunion.”

Franck Thiébaut, chairman of the sales coordinating committee of the SkyTeam aviation alliance:
“This is the first time we had our own stand at ITB Berlin. From the reactions we could see, the decision to be here was right. We will be back next year celebrating the tenth anniversary of our alliance.”

Brigitte U. Fleischauer, manager of Tourism Business Central, Southern & Eastern Europe, Singapore Tourism Board:
“We met our business partners, some of whom were extremely satisfied. They did good business, including for their partners in countries bordering Singapore. I believe the mood is quite positive and as a result we are quite satisfied.”
Theresa Bay-Müller, South Africa country manager for Germany:
“I can only say that booking additional space at ITB Berlin for the 2010 FIFA World Cup was the best move one could think of. People were queuing up to find out about accommodation, transport in South Africa, and naturally tickets, because tickets went online two weeks ago. FIFA representatives and service providers from South Africa were also on hand, and they were very busy at ITB Berlin.”

Emanuel Berger, delegate of the administrative committee of the Victoria-Jungfrau Collection, Switzerland:
“For me, ITB Berlin is an event that saves time and money, particularly in times of crisis, because I can see the world in a few days.”


Ralf Grauel, author, brand eins:
“The events were packed, not least because of the recession. We gathered because there was a greater urge to look for solutions.”

Maria Pütz-Willems, chief editor,
“On the first day, the organizers counted many more delegates at the ITB Convention than last year. In 2008, the total was 11,000. At the 4th ITB Hospitality Day we had 28 experts from twelve countries giving papers. We also booked the largest room, which was full. We are delighted with the success.”

ITB Berlin 2009 – stronger than ever
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