Another year of success

ITB Berlin 2014 welcomed 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries, with the number of trade visitors increasing 4 per cent to reach 114,000 and business volumes reaching as much as $8.9 billion
ITB 2014 … innovation is the way into the future

WITH the global economy expected to recover in the years to come, the world’s travel industry has begun the year with  confidence. 

This year’s International Travel Bourse (ITB) Berlin from March 9 to 15 reported a four per cent rise in trade visitors and an increase in business volume, which Messe Berlin estimates reached €6.5 billion ($8.9 billion). The focus of the world’s leading travel trade fair, was on travel bookings via smartphones and tablets, and on sustainable practices in the travel industry.

Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin said, “Never before was there such an emphasis on innovation as at this year’s ITB Berlin. The world’s leading travel trade show had an even more positive impact on trade buyers and holidaymakers than in previous years.”

At the event, as many as 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries – more than two-thirds of whom came from abroad – were represented in 26 halls which were booked to capacity. Overall, some 114,000 trade visitors (2013: 109,616) travelled to Berlin. This year, there was a slight increase again in buyers from the US and the Middle East, while social media and mobile travel services proved to be major visitor attractions. 

The ITB Berlin Convention, which was chaired by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary general Taleb Rifai, registered record levels of attendance. A total of 22,000 took part in around 200 lectures, discussions and workshops, over 5 percent more than in 2013.

At the convention, the UNWTO also issued a communique stating that the UNWTO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Africa’s tourism ministers would join forces to fight wildlife crime.

During the deliberations at the meeting Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, appealed for the anti-poaching drive to go further that just rhino horns and elephant tusks. Hawkbill turtle shells and Coco de Mer, a nut endemic to the Seychelles, should also be added to the list of protected articles, he said. 

“Tourism is a key vehicle for sustainable growth, job creation and poverty alleviation across Africa, but without the draw of its spectacular wildlife, future tourism development and millions of people depending on it will suffer,” said Rifai. “We are here to work together in supporting the global efforts in safeguarding Africa’s natural heritage and ensure the wellbeing of wildlife and people alike.”

Dubai won five awards at this year’s ITB, stealing the show from the rest of the Middle East

Earlier in March, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the exemption of an additional 13 European member states from requiring a pre-entry visa to the country. The ruling, which has come into effect from March 22 this year, means that citizens of all 28 member states of the European Union will no longer require a pre-entry visa to the UAE. 

And once again Dubai stole the show by winning five prestigious awards. During the ITB Go Asia Awards, Dubai was named ‘Most Popular Destination in Arabia’; Emirates airline was named ‘Best Arabian Airline’; and the Germany office of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing was named as the ‘Best Arabian Tourism Board in Germany’.

Dubai’s marketing was also recognised with the ‘Diamond Award for Best Film in All Categories’ in the Golden City Gate Tourism Media Awards, an international film, print and media contest for the tourism industry. Dubai’s reputation for world-leading service in its five-star hotels was recognised at the Connoisseur Circle awards ceremony, with One and Only The Palm taking home the award for Best Hospitality Boutique Resort, with selection criteria including outstanding service, unparalleled engagement and exceptional hospitality.

The Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) stand attracted great interest with its mega projects. These projects that showcase the phenomenal growth witnessed by the emirate’s tourism and leisure sector include Al Jabal Resort – The Chedi Khorfakkan; Sir Bu Nair Island; the Heart of Sharjah; Al Bait Hotel; Al Majaz Waterfront; the Flag Island; the Kalba eco-tourism project; Al Montazah Amusement and Waterpark; and Al Hisn Island – Dibba Al Hisn.

Apart from the UAE, there were large stands for other countries from the Middle East too, with Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait and Oman well represented.