MADRID, Spain – The 31st edition of the International Tourism Trade Fair, FITUR, organized by IFEMA and to be held from January 19-23, 2011, begins to reflect the tourism sector’s recovery. A month after the inauguration of the fair, FITUR has confirmed the participation of more than 10,500 companies from 166 countries and/or regions. Thus, the selection of services on hand will occupy 10 exhibition halls at Feria de Madrid, covering 75,000 square meters of net exhibition space. Of particular interest in this data is the 2% growth figure in the business area, which bodes well for the market’s recovery, while also demonstrating the importance of FITUR as a business platform. The increase in participating companies is reflected at the fair with the return of some businesses, such as the technology provider AMADEUS, the hotel group ACCOR, and the car rental company NATIONAL ATESA, among others. These are bolstered by the return to FITUR of IBERIA, with its own stand, as the leading airline in the Spanish market.
FITUR 2011 will also be welcoming some destinations for the first time, such as the Republic of the Congo and Pakistan, as well as new official delegations from New Zealand, Lebanon, and South Africa, all demonstrating their confidence in FITUR as a first-class platform to promote their tourist offerings. FITUR’s clout is also evidenced by the growth in participation by some longstanding fair exhibitors, such as CATA, The Central American Tourism Promotion Agency, which for the 2011 edition has increased by 24% its already significant presence at the fair last year.
MIRRORING THE MARKET
The data from the report prepared on the occasion of the FITUR 2011 Organizing Committee Meeting – presented at a press conference by IFEMA Executive Committee President Luis Eduardo Cortes; Antonio Vazquez, President of the FITUR Organizing Committee and IBERIA airlines; IFEMA CEO Fermin Lucas; and FITUR Managing Director Ana Larranaga – indicates how the next edition of the fair reflects tourism-related growth in certain emerging areas. Among other areas, participation is on the rise in some of the markets, which have best weathered the recession, like the Asia-Pacific region, which is increasing its presence by 4%, along with North Africa and the Middle East, with a 3% boost.
Along with the developing presence of fledglings in the tourist industry, there are also signs of growth in the most mature markets, like Europe, whose presence will see a 5% rise.
AN INCREASINGLY DYNAMIC INDUSTRY
In this context, the event’s management is optimistic about the results of the fair, as one of the most active months still lies ahead, in which applications and many last-minute requests are attended to.
In addition to the robust business response indicated by participation rates, the numerous developments and activities planned for this next edition suggest that the upcoming event will reflect a more dynamic and recovered market, as the fair serves as a business-multiplying commercial platform.
With the aim of promoting commercial transactions, FITUR, working with the news channel CNN as its official international television channel, announces the opening of FITUR LGBT, a space which will bring together programs aimed at the lesbian, gay, homosexual, and transsexual community, one of the tourism market segments with the greatest potential for development. This initiative stands in addition to programs undertaken for the first time last year and which, given their extraordinary welcome, will be back in 2011, such as INBOUND SPAIN, a trade fair section devoted to programs promoting Spain as a tourist destination, or INVESTOUR, a forum organized in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which aims to promote investments by Spanish companies in Africa to promote tourism-based economic development of the region’s most deprived areas. This year participation is being encouraged by countries belonging to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Also, in concert with the UNWTO and Madrid’s Tourism Council, the fair will present FITUR GREEN, a space combining an exhibition area with workshops to promote the establishment of more environmentally sustainable systems in tourist accommodations.
In order to promote business in other key tourism segments, such as business travel, the themed section FITUR CONGRESOS will be back, this time called FITUR MEETINGS & EVENTS, a workshop dedicated to travel for meetings, conferences, special events, and incentive-based trips. The new name encompasses all the markets involved in this kind of tourism. The event will be reduced to one day, January 18, with an emphasis on the investing potential of buyers selected by TURESPANA. In short, stress will be placed on the effectiveness and quality of the meeting participants in an effort to make the function as profitable as possible.
In addition, this year FITUR will feature participation by the MASSIVEGOOD charitable initiative, already receiving support from many businesses and agencies in the tourism sector. The Kids Without Malaria campaign will also be promoted at the fair, a charity backed by MASSIVEGOOD and the Spanish Red Cross to raise awareness and funds for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this disease in Africa.
MULTIPLYING THE DIFFERENT CHANNELS
Acutely aware of the importance of today’s new technologies, this year FITUR has boosted its presence on social networks. Along with its Facebook page and presence on YouTube comes a blog at http://www.fitur.es featuring comments from tourism professionals on current industry issues. Meanwhile, in order to encourage debate on the industry, a space on LinkedIn and also on Twitter have been opened up, while images of the Fair can be shared via Flickr. These are just some of the steps taken in order to increase contact between all those involved in FITUR: its management, professionals, the government.
FITUR also aims to increase interaction and involvement by the public in the Fair. To this end, along with the premiere travel-related social network, MINUBE.com, a Travel Gymkhana will be held on Saturday, January 22 and Sunday, January 23, inviting the adventurous to discover the destinations present at FITUR through a treasure hunt where participants can win exciting prizes.
Visitors will also be able to share their travel experiences at the Speaker’s Corner, as their input will be shown over screens strategically placed in the fair’s halls. These initiatives come in addition to those already undertaken at the last edition with MINUBE.com: the FITUR MEETUP, which brings travelers together so that they can share advice on destinations and routes, and information points which, manned by MINUBE specialists, will help visitors to get the most out of their time at IFEMA’s different halls by telling them where to find the kind of deals they are looking for, the programs best suited to them, and information on the offerings in the countries they intend to visit on their next vacations.
The 1st Interactive Folklore Marathon will also be held which, with the slogan “Folklore & Art With Us,” seeks to create a new interactive, fun, and cultural space in what is an extension of the traditional Peoples of the World Folk Festival, so successful in recent years. This initiative will combine performances with workshops where visitors can learn percussion, singing, and crafts techniques.
All in all, from January 19-23 FITUR will become the key place for both professionals and the general public to find about the latest trends in tourism, grow their businesses, or just have the most fun possible preparing for their upcoming travels.
The days for professionals, from Wednesday, January 19 until Friday, January 21, FITUR 2011 will open without interruption from 10:00 am-7:00 pm. With the arrival of the general public on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23, the fair will expand its schedule: 10:00 am-8:00 pm.