Despite the war worries and the current situation, the overall travel and tourism is still looking up. That was the conclusion drawn after the ITB Berlin International Tourism Exchange concluded last month.
"Here at our ITB Berlin the industry's message was clear: despite a weak bookings situation we will not bury our heads in the sand but intend to utilise this crisis as an opportunity for restructuring. In this way the ITB fulfils its role even more emphatically, providing the industry with a fresh impetus, and it has strengthened its position as a worldwide leader in its field." This was how Dr Christian Göke, Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin summed at the fair.
During the five-day event last month there were many positive indicators for the tour operators, airlines, hotels and 181 destination countries. Interest in travel remains as keen as ever and while in Berlin the international tourism industry was already preparing its strategies for the period following the current crisis.
As emphasised during the ITB 2003 by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Madrid, contrary to expectations, travel over the past year was successful in many respects. Forecasts for the coming years are also positive despite difficult economic conditions in several regions of the world and the generally tense geopolitical situation. According to the Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Francesco Frangialli: "In these uncertain times the ITB Berlin provides just what the international tourism community needs: direct contacts between supply and demand at a high professional level, an exchange of expertise in order to face the future in tourism, accompanied by the exchange of ideas, experience and projects.
The positive progress achieved by the ITB Berlin confirmed its position as an outstanding marketing instrument for the international tourism industry. Throughout the fair many destinations succeeded in establishing new business contacts.
As a vacation land, Germany was even more in demand in 2003 than in the previous year. The public and trade visitors also displayed a particularly keen interest in destinations in the Asia-Pacific region and in Southern Europe.
Current trends favour the market segments of cultural travel, wellness, river and ocean cruises, and tourism to experience nature.
9,971 exhibitors (2002: 9,678) from 181 countries and territories, representing every sector of the international tourism industry, took part in the ITB 2003. The fair attracted over 129,943 visitors (2002: 122,980). Trade visitor numbers remained steady at 67,000, and they came from 180 countries.
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