Some 12,000 delegates have begun arriving at The Sands Exhibition & Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, as the fifth annual ITB Asia show gets underway.
A total of 865 exhibitors are on hand to greet early arrivals, with Jordan, Pakistan, Qatar, South Africa, Uganda, and Gabon among the national tourist boards at the event for the first time.
Martin Buck, vice president, Messe Berlin (Singapore): “This is a benchmark year for us, as we celebrate our fifth anniversary, here at a new home Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
“We have more exhibitors, more space, and dramatically more content on offer to our delegates.”
Buck revealed the 2012 event sees a 15 per cent increase in exhibitor numbers, with representatives from 72 countries at the annual show.
There are over 12,000 square meters of space for delegates to explore, with the event a complete sell out.
A total of 3,270 minutes of content will also be offered during an extensive seminar programme.
“The dynamics of the market here in Asia are growing much faster here than we saw with the development of the European travel sector,” added Buck.
ITB Asia 2012 sold out five months ahead of the event, even after the increase in floor space as it moved from Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre.
WTTC president David Scowsill addresses delegates on the first day of ITB Asia 2012
World Travel & Tourism Council
Addressing the opening ceremony World Travel & Tourism Council president David Scowsill told delegates: “Asia is the single biggest driver of the growth in the global travel and tourism industry.
“While other regions are growing sluggishly, Asia leaps ahead.”
WTTC is forecasting growth for the overall region of almost six per cent in 2012, triple the growth of Europe.
“There are variations within the region, with strength in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippies compensating for weaker growth in Thailand, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, but the overall picture is one of dramatic growth over both the short term and long term,” added Scowsill.
This year ITB Asia has forged new partnerships with leading travel industry experts representing UNWTO, MCI, National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS), Panacea Publishing Asia, Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), Asia Cruise Association (ACA), and Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).
ITB Asia opened in Singapore this morning
As the event opened, tourism research organisation PhoCusWright released its latest report revealing Asia Pacific is set to remain the fastest-growing travel region in 2013.
The market is expected to be worth an estimated US$357 billion next year.
“With Asia fuelling the growth in global tourism, there is no better time to focus our efforts on this region,” said Neeta Lachmandas, assistant chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board.
“In order for tourism businesses to leverage this growth, it is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the breadth and diversity of Asian travellers.
“We believe that ITB Asia, along with the complementary events under TravelRave, will provide the much needed Asian centred insights that will help businesses reach the fast-growing source markets within Asia.”
According to the PhoCusWright-ITB Asia study, Asia Pacific’s travel market will maintain high single-digit growth at nine and eight per cent in 2012 and 2013 respectively with offline distribution still accounting for a majority of regional travel sales.
“Wholesalers and traditional travel retailers continue to serve a large segment of leisure travel demand as travellers in many markets prefer buying tour packages and completing transactions offline, especially for more complex international travel,” said Chetan Kapoor, research analyst – Asia Pacific, PhoCusWright.
“But travellers are steadily shifting to the Internet in search of price transparency, variety, information and convenience, and demand for independent travel is also on the rise,” concluded Kapoor.