For the 40th time, ITB is opening its doors to the world travel trade, with bumper numbers of people gracing its floors in Berlin, Wednesday March 8th.
A record number of participants have registered for the event with 10,856 companies are exhibiting from 183 countries.
India, Arab states and South America have a larger display area than in previous years, there is also a new travel supply and trends- innovation event. With the growth of the event reflecting the strength of the travel trade this year.
East Timor, Myanmar and North Korea are also exhibiting this year at ITB, all three countries were not represented at World Travel Market in London back in November.
“By the end of the year we shall have returned to the high levels (of travel) we last saw in 2001, and the indications are very promising,” concluded Klaus Laepple, president of the BTW tourism authority at a press conference.
Kaepple focused on the impetus in the low-cost aviation market, recovery of tsunami hit countries and the FIFA World Cup. He explained that Germans will still be traveling despite the attraction of the games.
The BTW president also reiterated the words of the UN WTO that “avian flu does not present a risk to travellers…there is no reason to panic.”
Qatar Airways created a lot of interest on the opening day with the launch of its long-range A340-600 cabin for first class pasengers, which will be landing in Berlin.
The semi-circular mock-cabin was swamped by press who were keen to see the new lounge product that will soon become available on all Qatar Airways flights. The mantra: “We are a young and vibrant airline, which is going places,” came out over the loudspeakers
” On long-haul flights first class travellers want the luxury that only Qatar Airways can afford,” says Qatar Airways president Akbar Al Baker.
The Middle East sections of the show are attracting a lot of interest, with huge relative investments in ITB. Etihad was heralding its latest flights from Abu Dhabi to Manchester and Jakarta. It is also looking at expanding its flights to Paris, Dhaka and Casablanca.
Investment in the Arabian peninsular and its hotel sector in a bid to meet increased airlift and interest in the region’s destinations is also a hot focus for the event.
Chief Executive of Hilton International, Ian Carter explained to Breaking Travel News that his company is focused on the region and is looking for growth there with its portfolio.
At the same time Middle Eastern companies and their respective tourism departments are expanding globally, and integrating their strategies in marketing overseas.
Abu Dhabi Tourism chairman Khalifa Nasser Al Mansoori explained to BTN that Europe was a growth market for the Emirate and that the opening of its first inernational office in London, and another soon to open facility in Frankfurt, represents a new level of commitment to bringnig European tourists to the region.
“Abu Dhabi Tourism, Emirates Palace and Etihad Airways—we act as in unison, it is a three-part success story,” remarked Noel Massoud, General Manager of the Emirates Palace hotel.
Jumeirah’s, Chief Marketing office Bill Walshe also told BTN that the firm is looking to expand in North America both in the Midwest and West coast after the reopening of Essex House.
The Dubai-based hotel management firms is also focused on expanding in China, after its initial and recent breakthrough with its hotel in Xintiendi, Shanghai.
“By bringing Jumeirah to both the U.S. and China, we bring the brand to outgoing tourists from these markets—and there is a good chance they will stay with us overseas when they become familar with the product,” explained Walshe.