ITB Berlin, which begins today and is taking place for the 43rd time, has been fully booked since February with exhibitor numbers remaining stable at last year’s level. A total of 11,098 exhibiting companies (2008: 11,147) from 187 countries will occupy 26 halls. “The many uncertainties within this sector make this outstanding market place more important than ever,” said Dr. Göke, Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin. He continued, “All the relevant participants in this market are expected on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. Not only are trends on display here, this is also a venue for discussions about the strategies to be adopted in difficult times. Above all it is a place where business is negotiated on an international level. With over three quarters of its exhibitors and more than 35% of its trade visitors coming from other countries, ITB Berlin remains the undisputed leader for the world’s travel industry.”
The presence of some 120 ministers of tourism from around the world ensures close contacts with politicians and provides opportunities for discussions about the present economic situation with people in positions of responsibility.
The Ruhr metropolis, which has been chosen as Europe’s Capital of Culture 2010, will be presenting the many facets that it can offer visitors in Hall 8.2 at ITB Berlin: a total of 150 projects and 1500 events.
These will include a “Day of Songs”, when 300,000 singing enthusiasts will join in a song, and a day on which the A 40, the main highway through the metropolitan region, will be completely closed to traffic and will instead become a boulevard for art and culture.
Together with other region and cities RUHR.2010 occupies a 400 square metre area to provide a foretaste of its industrial heritage, its museums, festivals and sport. The Duisburg Philharmonic will be performing, Shrek from the MoviePark in Bottrop and the artist Horst Wackerbarth with his red couch can all be found on the stand. Visitors can also explore the metropolitan region using interactive tables, kiosks and 3 D screens or from a bird’s eye view.
The world’s newest nation, Kosovo (Hall 3.2), is one of the new exhibitors this year. A number of hotels are making their first appearance at ITB Berlin 2009, including the Bahia del Duque (Teneriffe) and the Gran Hotel Valentin Imperial Maya (Cancœn). Following its successful introduction last year the Economy Accommodation section in Hall 4.1 has also expanded and features six new international exhibitors: Alzaytuna Resort (Egypt), Broadway Hotel/Hostel (Egypt), superbude Hotel Hostel lounge (Hamburg), 50 plus Hotels Germany, JJW Hotels resorts France and Hostelworld.com (headquarters in Ireland, facilities around the world).
Among the carriers making their first appearance are Eurostar (Hall 18) and Gulf Air (Hall 22) as well as the cruise companies Amadeus Waterways and Premicon Line (Hall 25), and Berlin’s two zoos, the Zoologische Garten Berlin and Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde are also represented (Hall 14.1).
The USA is prominently represented at ITB Berlin: New York and Florida are occupying larger display areas this year. A new event stage has been set up featuring, among others, dances by Native Americans.
Cultural travel appears set for expansion too. The CULTURE LOUNGE in Hall 10.2 has increased in size and provides details about exhibitions, festivals, concerts and major collections. The Palace of Arts, Hungary, GOP Entertainment Group from Germany and the Vienna Summer of Opera, Austria, are exhibiting for the first time. Istanbul is represented on its own stand as the Capital of Culture 2010. In the adjacent Book World the publishing company Travel House Media is staging a larger display, while the new exhibitors Stiefel Digitalprint GmbH and Geo Institut complete the range of travel guides, travel literature, illustrated travel books and tourist maps.
Marking a significant moment in history there will be an exhibition entitled “20 Years after the Wall Fell - the Changing Face of Berlin”.
After a long interval a number of countries have returned to Berlin to promote their tourism attractions and facilities. They include Malawi (Hall 20), Gabun (Hall 4.1) and Bahrain (Hall 23). Turkmenistan and Tajikistan have returned too and are in Hall 26, while the displays by Vietnam and Thailand feature some new exhibitors. China’s official airline is represented on its own stand for the first time.
In 2009 the Middle East reports a continuing boom in tourism. The Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Qatar now have an even wider range of attractions and facilities. For the second time the airline Emirates is bringing its spectacular stand, in the form of a globe, to Berlin.
Hall 25 has now become the established place in which to find online tour operators, and this is another place where ITB Berlin continues to expand, especially with exhibitors from around the world. Among the new names to be found here are Unister, hosteras spa and belocal. Many new, small and innovative exhibitors can be found in the Travel Technology section in Hall 6.1.
The ITB Berlin Employment Exchange in Hall 5.1 has also increased in size, with many more contributors. At the ITB CareerCenter visitors have an opportunity for the first time to meet with the personnel representatives of major tourism companies. The YOURCAREERGROUP is helping them to make contact with The Rocco Forte Collection, Marché Restaurants Deutschland GmbH, Robinson Club, HRS - Hotel Reservation Service, Kempinski Hotels, Vamos Eltern-Kind-Reisen, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, DERTOUR and associated companies from the Rewe group, A-ROSA Resorts and DEHOGA Berlin. “MeerArbeit”, an initiative of the Federal Labour Agency, Suhl, is a new partner at the fair, exhibiting for the first time and helping jobseekers to get in touch with almost all the cruise companies. For example, AIDA and its training academy, A-ROSA, Columbia Ship Management (e.g. MS Europa) and the Peter Deilmann shipping line can be found here.
In addition to its comprehensive and wide-ranging displays ITB Berlin also plays a leading role as a source of information. It stages Europe’s largest and most important conference of specialists, attended by more than 10,000 people from all over the world. The ITB Berlin Convention provides answers to many of the pressing issues confronting the industry. This year the programme comprises some 80 major topics and 250 speakers. Moreover, with its ITB Business Travel Days, ITB Berlin gives particular prominence to this aspect of the travel industry. In another innovative development the ITB Business Travel Forum includes MICE topics as separate items on its agenda.
The financial crisis gives rise to many questions and is the focus of many discussions and presentations. During the ITB Future Day Prof. Dr. Norbert Walter, chief economist of Deutsche Bank, will analyse economic developments and the consequences for the travel industry.
This event will feature an analysis of problems and possible solutions to the crisis affecting capital markets, from the viewpoint of experts on financial markets, hoteliers and the UNWTO, as well as forecasts about worldwide travel behaviour and future travel trends, as seen by futurologists. During the ITB Aviation Day analysts will assess the impact on the airline industry of the crisis affecting capital markets. Other key subjects will include the sharp drop in capacity, climate protection and the prices of oil and aviation spirit. At the ITB Future Day the effects of rising oil prices on leisure mobility will be investigated by leading figures representing various forms of transport.
The ITB Corporate Social Responsibility Day is making its debut at the ITB Berlin Convention. As far as the tourism industry is concerned CSR is not an attempt to be fashionable but is a real prerequisite for long term economic success and the competitiveness of companies. The first comprehensive study of CRS is being presented in association with GfK. It explains what customers understand by this term, how much they are prepared to pay, and what CSR measures could bring lasting improvements to the efficiency of companies. The focus will be on practical experience and on visions for the future. In addition to examples of best practice from other sectors there will also be some realistic ideas on how to apply CSR to the tourism industry. In addition a large number of papers on the subject of “CSR in Tourism” will be given in Halls 4.1 and 5.1 and in the ICC Berlin. All the events dealing with the subject of CSR at ITB Berlin 2009 can be found in a printed programme which is available on the Exhibition Grounds.
For the first time the ITB Berlin Convention will include a number of sessions showing how the potentials of tourism and culture can be linked together and exploited. Taking the lead on this new day of events is RUHR.2010, the official partner region of ITB Berlin 2009. Two exclusive studies will be presented: The tourism research organisation Deutsche Gesellschaft für Tourismuswissenschaft (DGT e.V.) will present the findings of its research cluster into Culture and Tourism. Another empirical study analyses the importance of cultural highlights when people are making decisions about travel.
The travel technology conference PhoCusWright@ITB Berlin will show ways of selectively using technology to achieve success in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. Social media are now an indispensable feature of the industry. Blogs, user-generated content, YouTube, Facebook, Google Connect and Twitter are the keywords here.
The two-day programme has been drawn up by PhoCusWright, internationally recognised market researchers and consultants from the USA specialising in the travel sector. In a series of keynote speeches, executive round tables, CEO interviews and brief “Five Minutes of Fame” presentations, PhoCusWright@ITB Berlin will provide comprehensive insights into developments, innovations and new services. With even more participants, the PhoCusWright Bloggers Summit that was successfully launched last year now enters its second round: on 11 March bloggers from the travel industry will be discussing current trends. There will be free workshops presenting numerous case histories, addressing such aspects as fragmentation and consolidation in the areas of social media, Twitter and search engine optimisation (SEO).
The founder and editor in chief of the cult magazine Monocle, Tyler Brûlé, has attracted a great deal of attention with his forecasts and trends in the fields of travel, tourism and lifestyle. This prominent trendsetter and cosmopolitan figure will be the keynote speaker at the Destination Forums, where he will address the subject of optimising city destinations.
Sustainable travel and authentic experiences are significant trends in this industry, and the new ITB Indigenous Day will feature them in a fascinating context. Over 370 million indigenous peoples inhabit some ninety countries around the world. As well as differing widely in geographical terms, their environment and their communities offer a vast cultural diversity. This is an enormous resource which they could deploy to their own benefit in a tourism context. The ITB Indigenous Day represents new territory for ITB Berlin and offers some new horizons too.
During the weekend ITB Berlin provides members of the general public with some ideas for their next holidays. The fair will encourage them to think about their coming holidays with many shows, information events, activities in which they can get involved too, and culinary highlights too. The admission ticket to ITB Berlin also entitles all visitors to take part in a grand prize draw. The torn-off strip serves as the ticket for the draw and should be deposited in the box provided for this purpose by the stage in Hall 4.1. Over 100 travel prizes with a total value of over 50,000 euros are available to be won.
Visitors to ITB Berlin when it is open to the general public of Saturday and Sunday, 14 and 15 March 2009, can obtain their admission tickets from the comfort of their own homes at a reduced rate (12 instead of 14 euros) until 15 March 2009 by buying them online.
Tickets for ITB Berlin are also available at all S-Bahn ticket outlets and, as of now, from all automatic ticket dispensers on the S-Bahn stations. To facilitate travel to and from the fair and for other journeys by public transport the VBB day ticket, costing 6.10 euros (Berlin AB), is recommended.
The cost of admission to ITB Berlin at the fair’s ticket offices is 14 euros. Children up to the age of 14 accompanied by parents will be admitted free of charge. Schoolchildren and students can obtained reduced rate tickets costing 8 euros from the ticket offices at the fair. ITB Berlin is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.