The 46th ITB Berlin, which gets underway today, is a more political event than ever before: the European debt crisis, turmoil in certain countries within the Middle East, climate protection and sustainability, as well as EU emissions trading.
All these topics will be discussed at the ITB Convention by leading figures from the travel industry. The UNWTO Silk Road Minister’s Summit is taking place for the second time at the world’s leading trade fair for the international travel industry.
The official partner country of ITB Berlin in 2012 is Egypt
Dr. Christian Göke, Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, said, “At the start of the ITB Berlin Convention Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the Munich-based ifo Institute, will be analysing economic developments in Europe and around the world. The future development of tourism in Arab countries will be discussed by the tourism ministers of Egypt, Morocco and Jordan in conversations with political and business representatives. Safety and sustainability in the cruise industry is the subject being dealt with by the CEO Cruise Panel. ITB Berlin leads the field not only in terms of its exhibitor portfolio but also as a platform for the dissemination of knowledge.”
Demand Outstrips Supply
All available space in the 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds will be occupied when the 10,644 exhibitors from 187 countries present every aspect of the value-added chain of the tourism industry. In many of the halls there is not enough space to meet the demand. As a result this year’s ITB Berlin will include more two-storey stands than ever before. Messe Berlin is again expecting some 110,000 trade visitors from all over the world. A new feature, the ITB Buyers’ Circle, is intended to make it easier for leading buyers from small and medium-sized firms as well as the very biggest companies to conduct business at the fair. Prior to the fair international buyers have applied for the 500 places in an exclusive lounge with separate meetings rooms and a range of other services. Just under 50% of them will be coming from Europe, 23% from Asia, and 9% each from North America and the Near and Middle East. 4% each will be attending from Africa and from Central and South America.
Smartphone Transforming the Travel Industry
Travel technology is a dynamic and up-and-coming sector. All the space in Halls 6.1, 8.1 and 10.1 has been reserved since December and, due to exceptional demand, exhibitors in this sector can also be found in Hall 25 for the first time. A total of 236 providers of technology are presenting their products, and the display will include a joint stand from Thailand for the first time. In the eTravel World in Hall 7.1c some well-known companies as well as new start-ups are displaying their latest apps and innovations for the fields of mobile travel services and social media. Companies such as Reevoo and Review Pro from Social Review Management are focussing their attention on some new aspects. On Saturday, 10 March, suppliers from more than ten different categories will be on the stage presenting mobile travel applications for smartphones in 30 minute sessions. Published to coincide with ITB Berlin, the expanded and updated book “Mobile Travel App Guide – Edition 2012 powered by ITB” presents the results of investigations into over 120 mobile applications.
Asia Continues to Expand
Asia is very strongly represented at ITB Berlin this year, and in Hall 26 alone it features 17 new or returning exhibitors. Making their first appearance, from China, are Jin Jiang International Hotel, Chateau Star River Series, China WuXi, Yunnan Road Travel Co., Ltd. and Hangzhou Tourism Commission. Mongolia is also bringing new exhibitors to Berlin: Mongolia – Great Genghis, Juulchin World Tours, Mongolian Travel LLC and Mongolia Samar Magic Tours. East Timor is following up its successful debut in 2006. And North Korea is again represented at ITB Berlin. Hanuman Travel from Cambodia is another addition to the range of up-and-coming destinations. As part of the Indonesian display, the Bali pavilion is also making its first appearance. Also making their debut at ITB Berlin, from Vietnam, are Come & Go Vietnam, Vietravel Group and IT&T – Indochina Tourist and Trade.
Two very successful sectors, in Hall 4.1, are Experience Adventure and ECOtourism & Expeditions. This is where Greenland is presenting its trekking and adventure travel on its own stand for the first time. Many new providers from Mexico and Brazil are exhibiting, along with Geoparcs. Such international organisations as Rainforest Alliance, Atmosfair, Myclimate, Ecpat, Tourism Watch, TourCert and The International Eco Tourism Society for sustainable travel are also promoting their services under the same roof.
First introduced in 2010, the Gay & Lesbian Travel section is expanding and can no longer be considered merely a niche sector. Many countries have already become successfully established with city or beach destinations. This growth is also reflected by the expansion of the Gay & Lesbian Pavilion at ITB Berlin, where Brazil and Greece are represented with their own stands for the first time.
The ITB Berlin Convention, from 7 to 9 March 2012, addresses some topics that will become increasingly relevant in the future. The many panel discussions and papers presented by well-known experts and practitioners from tourism and associated areas will provide visitors to ITB Berlin with much useful information and valuable suggestions for action. A wide range of topics will be covered by the ITB Berlin Convention 2012, from business and politics to corporate social responsibility (CSR), health and technology. Admission to the convention is also available to holders of regular tickets to the ITB Berlin trade fair.
The current economic situation and its impact on tourism will be discussed by the distinguished economist and President of the ifo Institute in Munich, Prof. Dr. Dres. H.c. Hans-Werner Sinn, in his keynote address entitled “Global economic developments and the situation in Germany and Europe”. This event is part of the ITB Future Day in Hall 7.1b, London Room. The first day will conclude with an event that will be one of the highlights of the fair.
Under the heading “The Arab rebellion: an Arab Spring or tourism ice age?” experts on the Arab world will discuss the changes that can be expected in the tourism industry and the possibilities that are being offered. The discussions will take place on 7 March at 4.15 p.m. in Hall 7.1a, New York Room 1.
Leading figures in the cruise industry will be providing information about on-board safety and about the environmental protection aspects of cruising. Among the speakers will be Michael Bayley, Executive Vice President International, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Enzo Visone, CEO, Silverseas Cruises. The Executive Panel will be meeting on 7 March at 4.30 p.m. in Hall 7.1b, London Room.
Technical progress and its benefits for the travel industry will be another topic covered by the Convention. Arne Bleckwenn, Chief Executive of Wimdu.de, will be using this internet platform, which acts as an agency for private accommodation, to show how the internet makes shared ownership possible.
A similar objective is being pursued by Markus Barnikel, CEO, carpooling.com, with the subject of “Ride Sharing – the smart transport alternative of the Future”. Arne Bleckwenn will be speaking on 9 March at 4.15 in Hall 7.1b, London Room, and Markus Barnikel at 1.45 p.m. in Hall 7.1a, New York Room 3.
In addition to ecological and economic issues, the ITB CSR Day will also cover various aspects of social sustainability. The subject of “Accessibility” will form part of the programme for the first time. Another session will deal with the rapidly growing number of environmental and sustainability seals of quality and their credibility for industry and the consumer. During the ITB CSR Day the tour operator Studiosus will be explaining about the subject of human rights in the travel industry.
The ITB Berlin Convention has created a new format dealing with the subject of health tourism. In cooperation with visitBerlin, nine companies and destinations will be presenting their concepts in four minute slots at the “ITB Health Tourism Battle”. By pressing a button the audience will be able to decide on the best concept, and the creator will be rewarded by a city tour to Berlin.