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ITB Preview

All roads lead to Berlin
February 2012 2248

With more than 11,000 exhibitors from 180 nations in attendance, ITB Berlin 2012, the world’s largest travel trade show, will explore the trends and technologies in travel while introducing new initiatives

AS the countdown starts to the 46th ITB Berlin, which takes place this month (March 7 to 11), bookings are looking strong , confirming the exhibition’s role as a leading international platform for the industry, says David Reutz, head of ITB Berlin.

The ITB Berlin Convention’s agenda will features up-to-the-minute themes, including a CSR (corporate social responsibility) day which will deal with travel ethical issues as well as other topics including cruises and tourism market developments in the Middle East.”

Egypt has once again signed up as our official partner country for ITB 2012.

“At ITB, we don’t just sell exhibition space, we provide a certain level of competence that is now expected by the travel industry,” he says.

This year, Messe Berlin expects around 11,000 exhibitors from more than 180 countries to be present at the show. There has been a surge in exhibitor numbers from the Far East and Southeast Asia this year. Exhibitor numbers from China and Mongolia have grown significantly with nearly two dozen newcomers taking part. Bangladesh, who have been absent from ITB Berlin since 2007 will be present at this year’s edition. 

From the Africa’s the Republic of Côte d´Ivoire is back at ITB Berlin, as is Chad, which will be exhibiting in Hall 21, the first time since 1999. Among other newcomers are exhibitors representing Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain and the Turkish Riviera.

“We will also have representation from some interesting destinations including North Korea and Greenland.  From the Middle East, we have over 226 exhibiting companies including participation from Iraq and Bahrain,” says Reutz.

“The Middle East participation has seen a constant increase at ITB and we are constantly mirroring the growth of the region. With participation from most destinations as well as regional airlines, it gives us the confidence that we are key market for the Middle Eastern buyers.”

“Looking ahead, we hope to welcome back our friends from all those destinations that are currently having difficult times. Just like our official partner country Egypt, we hope that in the future we can help them reach out to a global audience through ITB,” he says.

2016 will mark 50 years of ITB and Reutz adds that the industry has evolved in leaps and bounds. ITB has already exceeded its capacity on the Fairgrounds and a new 20,000 sq m hall is currently under construction and expected to be complete by Jubilee year.

“This year we expect to welcome over 100,000 visitors and these numbers are expected to increase as a lot of visitors continue to register at the venue,” he adds.

Commenting on new travel trends, Reutz says that travel behaviours have changed drastically over the years and travellers are no longer seeking sun & sand but are keen to take home a natural experience.

“Even destinations have progressed and are keen to find a niche market. This has been advanced with today’s new media which includes Twitter, Facebook and most importantly the expertise of travel bloggers.

“It is a trend we can no longer neglect, since nothing influences better than word-of-mouth,” adds Reutz.

Given their role in the industry, this year for the first time, the world’s leading travel trade show will be devoting this day entirely to the media. Events will feature the opening press conference of ITB Berlin and further press conferences with individual exhibitors. An event welcoming bloggers from Germany and abroad will round off the ITB Media Day.

Travel technology too, will ne in the spotlight as the number of exhibitors representing mobile travel and social media mirrors the continuing success of eTravel World.

This section has been fully booked since December, an indication of the market’s growing significance and the dynamic developments taking place here. Companies representing social review management services such as Reevoo and Review Pro will be setting new trends. An international panel will discuss and debate travel blogs, while an app marathon will take place offering the general public an overview of the world of travel apps.

A free ITB Mobile Guide app will also be available for visitors to ITB Berlin. This year’s guide has numerous new features, including “What’s on“, an overview of current events, plus an A to Z of ITB, which lists everything visitors need to know about the show. Besides a map of the grounds, information includes the programme of the ITB Berlin Convention, a list of events along with press conferences, presentations, receptions, and a function for looking up exhibitors. After the fair closes the ITB Mobile Guide provides users with information on the quickest way to the city centre and tips on Berlin nightlife.

A new initiative at this year’s event will be the ITB Buyers’ Circle, which will soon ease the workload of the tourism industry’s leading buyers at ITB Berlin. As of now, buyers involved in the operations of small and medium-sized enterprises and of larger companies from the global travel industry can apply for membership of this circle.

The services of the ITB Buyers’ Circle will considerably save buyers’ time and significantly increase their efficiency.

“By creating the ITB Buyers’ Circle we are offering leading buyers from the international tourism industry a suitable environment, concentrating valuable resources and thus significantly reducing their workload. Intense networking and obtaining the latest industry information are crucial to a buyer’s success. The ITB Buyers’ Circle is another ideal platform for ensuring a successful visit,”  he says.

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