The travel industry put on a show of strength on the opening day of ITB Berlin 2009. This year’s show, which has been fully booked since February, featured over 11,098 exhibitors (compared to 11,147 last year) - no mean feat given the global economic climate over the past 12 months.
Highlight of day one belonged to reigning Miss World, Ksenia Sukhinova, who brought the ICC to a virtual standstill as she breezed elegantly through the exhibition halls. The Russian beauty won the coveted beauty contest in December in Johannesburg. She dropped by the South Africa Tourism stand to catch up with friends, pose for photos with fans, and also see how preparations for the Confederations Cup 2009 and Fifa 2010 were progressing.
(Above: Miss World with Hans Olberz, GM Emriates Palace)
She told Breaking Travel News, “I’m so happy to be in Berlin to see all my friends from South Africa. The South Africa stand was the best at ITB Berlin. Today I saw the big football which is promoting the Confederations Cup 2009 and I’m very excited because I’m going.
“Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to celebrate in Johannesburg at Fifa 2010. Let’s hope I won’t be the only Russian in town!”
Day one also witnessed a healthy turn-out of tourism ministers - over 120 from around the world, and providing that essential link between private and public sectors to ease the travel industry through the downturn.
(Above: Miss World with Paulo Senise, Rio Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Edmund Bartlett, Minister for Tourism for Jamaica, was in jubilant mood as his island posted a 2 percent rise in visitor arrivals in February, including a 3.9 percent rise in overall visitors. He said “Our winter season was particularly strong, which is always a good barometer for how the rest of the year will take shape. People continue to travel during downturns, however they become more discerning, choosing destinations that they can trust and that offer great value.”
The world’s newest nation, Kosovo, made its debut at the ITB this year. A number of hotels also made their first appearance, including the Bahia del Duque (Tenerife) and the Gran Hotel Valentin Imperial Maya (Cancœn).
Eurostar also made its inaugural ITB appearance. The high-speed train between the UK and Europe is riding high on the back of carrying a record 9.1 million passengers last year thanks to its winning formula of affordable prices combined with stress-free travel.