ITB Berlin 2005 signals promising future

The Bahrain stand at ITB 2005 … winning smiles

The worst of the recession is over for the international tourism sector: Continuous improvement is now expected.”

These were the positive conclusions drawn by Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin, speaking at the International Tourism Exchange ITB Berlin 2005. “The figures speak for themselves: the total of 10,409 exhibitors is not only a new record but we are also pleased to report that, despite unfavourable weather at the start of the event this year, the attendance of 142,351 is even better than last year’s substantial total of 141,139.”
Furthermore the structure of the visitors reveals a significant improvement in quality. Göke added: “Attendance by trade visitors rose by 12 per cent to 83,987 (2004: 75,019).” The world’s leading tourism trade fair is becoming increasingly international: among this year’s trade visitors more than one third, 33.5 per cent, came from abroad, a one per cent increase over the previous year.
This year the ITB Berlin featured a second Asia hall for the first time.”Exhibitors from the regions stricken by the tsunami did not cancel their participation in the ITB, but instead came to Berlin with a clear message: ‘We are back, and we now await the return of tourists from all over the world,’” Göke said. “Regards this as evidence that now, more than ever, the ITB Berlin is the leading marketing platform for the international tourism industry.”
This year’s partner country at the ITB Berlin, Germany, also viewed the results of the fair as positive. “The ITB Berlin 2005 provided some positive signals for incoming tourism to Germany. We are confident that a major impetus for the continued and positive development of tourism to Germany will be provided in 2006,” said Petra Hedorfer, chief executive of the German National Tourist Board (DZT). The DZT expects the upturn to continue during the current year and predicts tourism to Germany to grow by more than two per cent.
Hedorfer described Germany’s role as partner country as a “highlight” of this year’s ITB Berlin. “The presentation to the international tourism industry focused on Germany’s hospitality, its culture and its sporting interests. With the wide-ranging support of partners in the German tourism sector, as well as in business and politics, we have taken the opportunity presented to us just one year before a massive event, the Football World Cup, to draw attention to Germany as a destination,” he added.
Klaus Laepple, president of the national tourism industry association Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft (BTW), president of the Deutscher Reisebüro und Reiseveranstalter Verband (DRV), representing the country’s tour operators and travel agents, and chairman of the Supervisory Board of the International Tourism Exchange Berlin, gave a very upbeat assessment of this year’s event. “The ITB Berlin 2005 provided two highly encouraging signals: the prevailing mood and the way that the travel sector is developing are very encouraging. The ITB has confirmed the positive trend. There has been a distinct and lasting shift in trends and, acting as partner country, Germany met with a great deal of support and understanding: In the year before Germany hosts the FIFA World Cup 2006 its efforts have left an overwhelmingly positive impression,” he said.
In its summing up of the ITB the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) made particular mention of the good mood within the industry. “At this annual meeting of the international tourism sector, the world’s largest, the message emanating from the ITB Berlin is that the tsunami has failed to inhibit the growth of tourism to Asia, which continues to expand vigorously, and which has already proved, in past years, its remarkable ability to react to changes,” Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the WTO, said. “The WTO expects that , with the positive development of the economy and of trade in 2005, worldwide tourism is set to continue its run of success.”
The ITB Convention Market Trends & Innovations, organised last year for the first time by Messe Berlin in association with the Fachhochschule (Technical College) Worms, saw attendance almost double this year from 3,500 to 6,000. With 56 separate events and 176 speakers it provided insights into current trends and innovative business models for tourism. Its highlights included the first ITB Aviation Day, the ‘Future & Innovation Forum’, the Practical Workshop on China and the Experts’ Forum on India.
As in previous years exhibitors at the ITB were very satisfied with their commercial results at the fair: 89 per cent expect to attend again at the ITB Berlin 2006. Eighty five per cent are satisfied with the commercial results of their participation, which is a two per cent improvement over the previous year. Eighty eight per cent of exhibitors have obtained a positive overall impression of the ITB Berlin 2005, which is six per cent more than at last year’s fair.