A successful ITB Berlin 2012: Positive signals for continued growth in the travel sector
Increased numbers of trade visitors, exhibitors reporting more contracts signed, and an upsurge in attendance at the ITB Berlin Convention: these were among the outstanding features of the 46th ITB Berlin. 113,006 trade visitors (39,7% of them from abroad) came to obtain information about all sectors of the international travel industry from the 10,644 exhibitors from 187 countries. 59,126 people from Berlin and Brandenburg came during the weekend to find out about holiday destinations and new travel offers.
Dr. Christian Göke, Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, drew some very positive conclusions: “Over 2,200 more trade visitors than last year, an outstanding climate for business and the efficient creation of new business contacts at the newly established ITB Buyers Circle all underlined the position of ITB Berlin as a world leader. Considering the current political and economic challenges the topics chosen for the ITB Berlin Convention were certainly the right ones. Experts pointed out strategies for achieving sustainability and for the effective use of smartphone-based technologies. As a consequence ITB Berlin was able to demonstrate why it occupies the leading position as a platform for disseminating knowledge throughout the tourism industry.”
Support for the partner country Egypt
The partner country Egypt was aware of the strong solidarity shown by the international travel industry. Mounir Fahkry Abdel Nour, Egypt’s Minister of Tourism: “ITB was fantastic! I enjoyed every minute of it and met some fascinating and outstanding people. In addition to the support that I received I am very happy that the problems in a political context have not affected the general mood in the slightest, in fact quite the contrary. All our German partners declared their solidarity with us, including the Federal Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler. In personal discussions with Klaus Brähmig, Chairman of the Tourism Committee of the Bundestag, the representatives of the Egyptian parliament and I were able to resolve the confusion that arose as a result of his critical remarks regarding Egypt. It seems to me that ITB Berlin is growing larger all the time, and it is vibrant and more lively than ever. This could be my impression because we are the partner country this year. As a consequence of events taking place around the world the entire travel industry is in transition. This ITB is different from last year’s. I am experiencing a willingness among countries to cooperate and I find this very encouraging.”
The Egypt hall provided opportunities for visitors to use various social media platforms to find out about the political situation within the country. Facilities were available for linking up with Egyptian internet users, to make use of a real time live stream showing vacation centres and resorts in Egypt, or to exchange views and thoughts with Egyptians via Facebook and Twitter.
ITB Berlin Convention discussed current trends
The ITB Berlin Convention confirmed its appeal and recorded a further increase in attendance. The total of over 17,000 visitors represented a more than 20 per cent increase over the previous year. due in no small part to an extremely topical programme and some prominent speakers. From 7 to 9 March 2012 over 200 distinguished experts and well-known entrepreneurs used the world’s largest tourism convention to illuminate new trends and examples of best practice.
Focus on bloggers and on travel technology
For the first time, on the evening preceding the start of ITB Berlin, a reception was held for bloggers from all over the world. Organised specifically to serve the interests of bloggers, this event attracted over 120 of them from more than 10 countries. The Travel Technology section at ITB Berlin 2012 was larger than ever before, with 236 exhibitors displaying technical innovations in four halls. In Hall 7.1c some well-known companies as well as new start-ups presented their latest apps and innovations for the fields of mobile travel services and social media. Although major advances have been made with applications over the past two years, development work is still in progress, and this is a fascinating topic, not only for travel experts but for the public too. A so-called App Marathon took place on the Saturday at ITB for the first time, providing visitors with an overview of the world of travel apps.
Sustainability – a highly topical subject
An important subject this year was that of sustainability in tourism. The scope covered at ITB Berlin ranged from accessible tourism to human rights, seals of quality, geoparks, the rain forests and the overexploitation of resources. Papers on these subjects were read each day on the stage in Hall 4.1, ECOtourism & Expeditions. At the ITB Berlin Convention various aspects of climate change and sustainable tourism were addressed during the three ITB Destination Days, on the MICE Day and also on the ITB Mobility Day. During the ITB CSR Day the latest trends, such as a seal of sustainability and accessible tourism, were dealt with in papers and panel discussions involving travel providers, universities and colleges, the hotel trade and non-profit organisations. The “1st Day of Barrier-Free Tourism“, under the leadership of the coordinating organisation Nationale Koordinierungsstelle Tourismus für Alle e. V., NatKo, attracted some 300 trade visitors. They discussed the commercial potential of disabled travellers, who are currently responsible for generating sales worth five billion euros for the tourism industry.
Statements about ITB Berlin 2012
Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO:
“Once again, ITB has proven an unmissable event for the world’s tourism sector and an absolute must for all those looking to boost business and better understand the latest tourism trends, developments and prospects. I particularly welcome the presence of Egypt as the Official Partner Country of ITB and the overwhelming support of the tourism community to this long-standing destination.
Attending ITB one thing is clear: international tourism is one of the most dynamic and exciting economic sectors of our time. All indicators point to the continued growth of tourism in 2012, despite the persistent economic challenges, and ITB has been a fantastic opportunity to come together and see how to best harness this growth for economic well-being, job creation and development worldwide.
Klaus Laepple, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW): “This year’s ITB Berlin was again the platform where the worldwide tourism industry could obtain information, sign contracts, cultivate contacts and identify moods. For five days Berlin’s exhibition halls were the meeting place and the focal point for the international tourism world.
In summing up it can be stated: the mood was extremely positive. The volume of sales concluded here this year is expected to again significantly exceed the six billion euro mark. The highly topical programme of the ITB Convention ensured that all seats were taken in the halls. Moreover the many studies and forecasts that were prepared in connection with the fair offer good grounds for optimism. People, especially in Germany, are still as keen as ever to travel. All the signs are that this will be another good year for the tourism industry. The positive indications mean that we face the next few months with optimism.”
Jürgen Büchy, President of the German Travel Association (DRV): “This year’s ITB Berlin offers some very promising signals. The vast majority of exhibitors and trade visitors are talking of a successful start to the tourism year 2012, a feeling that has been reinforced by the messages coming from the travel trade’s leading fair, and from the business conducted there. The basic mood is a positive one, even though certain sections of the industry and several countries are experiencing a certain reluctance to commit to making bookings. This applies, for example, to the cruise market, and to Greece and Egypt. But one thing is certain: The German travel sector is committed to these countries. A considerable measure of support and a great deal of sympathy, especially for the democratization process in the partner country of ITB, Egypt, are evident in the tourism sector. And in this respect this year’s ITB Berlin gives a positive signal that change is imminent.
Advance bookings and forecasts for the summer of 2012 give us confidence that, despite the debt crisis in several European countries, Germans will be travelling in even greater numbers than before. Consequently prospects are good that growth in the travel sector in 2012 will again exceed the successes of 2011. The German travel industry is expecting the market to grow by two to three per cent.”
Keen interest shown by the media and politics
A total of 6,975 accredited journalists from 94 countries reported from ITB Berlin. Once again this trade show provided a meeting place for international politicians and diplomats. In addition to the 64 foreign delegations the fair was also attended by Princess Ubolratana Mahidol of Thailand. Meetings took place between 76 ambassadors from all over the world, as well as 43 government ministers and numerous state secretaries from many countries. Philipp Rösler, Federal Minister of Economics and Technology, Dr. Peter Ramsauer, Federal Minister of Transport, Construction and Urban Development, Ilse Aigner, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and Dirk Niebel, Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, as well as the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, came to learn more about the strengths and capabilities of the travel sector.
The next ITB Berlin will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, 6 to 10 March 2013. The official partner country will be Indonesia.
Comments by buyers at ITB Berlin 2012
Steffen Boehnke, Category Management Long Haul & Ocean Cruises TUI:
“This event is dominated by a very good and positive mood. The long haul market is expanding and this helps to promote this mood. It is very important for me that all my partners are available at ITB Berlin, although I still do not understand the shuttle system. Long distances have to be covered, and the switch between the Africa, Hotel and Asia halls is very exhausting.
I think that the ITB Buyers’ Circle is a good idea. The Business Centre and contact point were of assistance to me from time to time. I took part in very good discussions, in some cases with follow-ups, and a new impetus was frequently provided. Overall I am very satisfied.”
Anja Dejoks, Chief Executive a&e erlebnis:reisen:
“The Buyers‘ Circle is an excellent facility which I am determined to make even more use of next year. For the first time we have a room where we can retreat to in order to conduct discussions in a much quieter and very pleasant atmosphere. There is a far greater concentration, which also boosts productivity. Although we cannot put a figure on it, overall ITB Berlin is an important forum for us. And the Buyers‘ Circle definitely makes things much easier for me.”
Holger Koch, Alltours:
“The fair was a very interesting one for me with many different appointments. The overall mood was very positive and productive.”
Mohammed Khan, Attar Travel, Saudi Arabia:
“The fair went excellently, and the contacts and the business were really good. I had not expected it to be so successful.”
Ajay Kumar Jha, Mystifly, India:
“Previously I had only attended ITB Asia, and this year I was attending ITB Berlin for the first time. Attendance at this trade fair was a wonderful experience for us. I was busy all the time and we made many new contacts, as well as meeting existing business partners here.”
Exhibitors’ comments about ITB Berlin 2012
Air Berlin: Hartmut Mehdorn, CEO
“The Air Berlin stand at the fair again attracted a very large number of visitors and I am very satisfied with the presentation by airberlin at this year’s ITB. This year for the first time we occupied a stand jointly with our strategic partner Etihad Airways in order to meet the many international media representatives and decision-makers from the tourism sector. The introduction of our new top bonus platinum card for frequent flyers and our business points programme for small and medium-sized customers met with a great deal of interest. And now we are eagerly looking forward to joining the global airline alliance oneworld® on 20 March.”
Emirates: Thierry Antinori, Executive Vice President - Passenger Sales Worldwide
“ITB Berlin is a significant driving force for the worldwide travel industry and the ideal place for us to meet business partners and contacts from our key markets. Emirates has been exhibiting at ITB Berlin for over 15 years and it is important that we continually have a presence at the show.”
Deutsche Lufthansa AG: Jens Bischof, Member of the Board, Sales and Revenue Management
“After three years without a Lufthansa stand I decided that it was high time that the blue and yellow livery was seen again at ITB, and for the crane to touch down here once again.”
Kenya: Birger Meierjohann, Press Officer
“We are very satisfied with ITB Berlin 2012. Our contacts were certainly productive and although we felt that there was a decline in the numbers of people visiting our stand, the quality of the discussions was outstanding. There was an encouragingly high level of media interest in our topics. Some exciting joint ventures were discussed during the many meetings with major tour operators and airlines.”
Mecklenburg- West Pomerania: Jürgen Seidel, President of the Regional Tourism Association
“Here it is not only important to see and be seen but also to engage in negotiations, to sign contracts and also to enter into joint ventures, thereby contributing to the development of tourism in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.”
Rewe Group: Tobias Jüngert, Director Corporate Communications, Tourism Division
“ITB Berlin 2012 was a complete success for the tourism division of Rewe Group. I found the general mood at the fair to be particularly good this year, even though we are having to deal with the problems in Greece and Egypt. The partner country Egypt in particular has done a very good job here by being open and transparent about its difficult situation.”
Tajikistan: Lochin Faizulloev, Vice-Minister for Tourism
“ITB Berlin was again outstanding for Tajikistan this year. With our presence in recent years at ITB Berlin our stand has become a regular meeting place for many old and new friends of Tajikistan. Moreover our new stand design – a pinch more Tajikistan – produced a very positive response.”
Cyprus: Andreas Sakkas, CTO Director and President, Corps Touristique
“ITB Berlin 2012 has again been a great success for Cyprus. The first quarter started very positively and this has been matched by the reaction to Cyprus at ITB Berlin. We are expecting double-digit growth for the year as a whole, and this is also due to our presence at ITB Berlin.”