Africa and Asia strong at ITB

Ruetz…bookings stable

With 11,000 exhibitors from 180 countries expected to attend, DAVID RUETZ, head of ITB Berlin, spoke to LIZ O’REILLY about what to expect at this year’s show

How are bookings looking for 2010, are figures up or down on last year?

Bookings are stable and on the same level as last year. The increase in exhibitors from Asia is impressive. Inside Hall 7.2b, an all-new building, the central and inner-Asian countries are promoting their local destinations. Private exhibitors from Vietnam, who are new to the show, such as Ami Tourist, Footprint Vietnam Travel, Fusion Management and Wuxi/China, a new region, are represented with their own stands in the Asia Hall (26) for the first time, as is Garuda Indonesia. Thailand and Indonesia are occupying considerably larger stands. As a tourism destination Africa is a booming continent. Accordingly, the Africa Halls (20/21) are completely booked up. Zanzibar and Gambia have returned and Djibouti is exhibiting its products for the first time since 1991. Demand for space in the India Hall (5.2b) remains unabated even though it too is fully booked. Kerala is occupying an even larger display area yet again. This is the first time the Rajasthan Tourism Board will be at the fair with a joint stand representing the region. 

Turkey is this year’s partner country, what does this entail?

Turkey tops the list as a destination for beach holidays in the sun.

It already offers the right product, particularly in economically difficult times. However, this year’s displays, organised by the Capital of Culture Istanbul and Turkey’s many different regions, will present an even more colourful picture of Turkey to the general public. Its status as the official partner country of ITB Berlin guarantees a level of attention and sympathy that extends far beyond the borders of Europe.

What percentage of exhibitors is from the Middle Eastern region and is this number still growing?

We are expecting around 700 exhibitors from the Mena region which is approximately the same as last year.

What will be the main thrust/message at this year’s show and how will this be delivered?

One of the highlights of ITB Berlin, which takes place from March 10 to 14, 2010, is the world’s largest travel industry convention. Featuring an outstanding programme of events and high-ranking speakers, the ITB Berlin Convention 2010 will highlight the effects of the financial and economic crisis on tourism, the structural changes in society and shifts in travel patterns. More than 200 leading speakers and panel guests from science, politics and with practical experience will present topics and discuss the future of travel at around 100 events. 

What will be the main highlights of the show, is there anything new on the agenda?

The focus will be on the partner country of ITB Berlin. Turkey, a favourite travel destination among Germans, will provide a fascinating and colourful programme of events. On Tuesday, March 9, the opening ceremonies will kick off the show in spectacular fashion. A colourful display will present all the various aspects of Turkey at a gala event. Sun, a fascinating show by Fire of Anatolia, will present musical and dancing highlights.
For the entire duration of ITB Berlin 2010 the focus will be on the partner country as a very special travel destination. As one of the largest exhibitors at the fair Turkey will be represented in Hall 3.2.

For the first time organisations and companies from the central and inner-Asian region are presenting their products together in hall 7.2b with exhibitors coming from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Also new, ITB Berlin is providing the fast-growing market of mobile communication devices with a platform of its own. There will be a centrally located presentation stage and an exhibition area in hall 7.1c along with targeted marketing activities and a convention both for newcomers and professionals.

Can you tell us a bit about the seminar programmes and speakers?

The ITB Marketing and Distribution Day will take place for the first time with debate focusing on the marked changes in consumer booking patterns and information needs. Experts taking part in a discussion round entitled Personalised Package Tours will point out that the much talked about paradigm shift towards longtail services has already taken place. The internet will also come in for close examination, as a way to occupy attractive market niches and personally address customers. The day’s highlight will be the ITB Media Summit 2010. The confidence of the travel industry has been shaken, the questions its members are asking are how can we reach the consumer and what opportunities do Facebook and Twitter etc offer? 

Against the backdrop of a changing climate the ITB Hospitality Day will discuss what new services hotels should offer.

On ITB Aviation Day key topics certain to spark controversy are the future of aviation alliances and a discussion on the strategies and concepts of budget airlines, the winners in this recession. At the global CEO panel discussion, members will give their opinions on the future of commercial aviation around the world.

Do you have figures for how much business was conducted as a result of last year’s show?

Each year sales in excess of €6 billion ($8.27 billion) are generated at ITB Berlin.

How do you see 2010 shaping up for the travel and tourism industry?

We are unsure as to what the future holds. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation looks forward to 2010 with expectations. Probably, we are all waiting for the newest facts and numbers that will be presented during ITB Berlin. But we believe that the worst of the global recession is over and that there are real prospects for travel industry growth in 2010.