Despite snow and strikes ITB thrived

ITB Berlin 2008

Exhibitor numbers to ITB Berlin 2008 were up by 25 per cent over last year and visitor numbers swelled – all despite snow and strikes at airports and in public transport.

There were 11,147 participants from 186 countries and 177,891 visitors came to the exhibition halls.
“The ITB Berlin continues to grow. According to its exhibitors, sales with a value of just under six billion euros were finalised at and around the ITB Berlin,” said Dr Christian Goke, COO of Messe Berlin.
The trade show included more exhibitors than ever before this year but also attracted more visitors over the past five days than it did last year, despite strikes and snow.
Just under 40 per cent of the trade visitors came to the 42nd Berlin show from abroad in search of the latest industry trends.
“The accompanying convention was an outstanding event with a record number of attendees and it continues to attract growing numbers of international decision makers,” Goke continued.
In the international tourism sector’s business travel market there was much optimism, for the show attracted more exhibitors than last year’s 10,923 companies from 184 countries. Attendance figures revealed that between Wednesday and Friday a total of 110,322 trade visitors were registered (2007: 108,735).
During the weekend 67,569 members of the public also came, and it was established by surveys conducted there that more than 70 per cent of the general public who attended intend to use a travel agency when making their travel arrangements. Due to the all of the 160,000 sq m display space in the 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds being occupied, increasing numbers of exhibitors resorted to constructing multi-storey stands. Emirates Airlines provided a grand example of this by sporting a three storey rotating globe.
Interest in the ITB Berlin Convention Market Trends & Innovations programme indicated that the travel industry was seriously addressing the impact of climate change on the tourism industry.
The many international speakers at the convention including Bertrand Piccard and Peter Sloterdijk attracted a record of 11,000 people -  a 25 per cent increase.
Klaus Laepple, president of the German Travel Association (DRV) and of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) said, “For five days the world came together in the Berlin exhibition halls, which provided a unique platform for discussions, encounters and the cultivation of contacts around the globe.”
He believed that trade visitors from all over the world utilised the show to communicate in order to establish the directions to be taken for the coming season, and that overall the show was a huge success.
“The figures provide impressive confirmation of this fact. On the basis of such positive indications we anticipate that 2008 will be a successful year for travel,” said Laepple.
Francesco Frangialli, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said, “We are proud to have again been part of the ITB Berlin, which is a loyal and important partner of the UNWTO. The leading trade show for the world’s tourism industry again confirmed its excellent reputation as a unique meeting place for the industry, experts, government representatives and travellers themselves.
“The ITB Berlin has convincingly shown how our sector meets and implements sustainability criteria. This is one of the fundamental objectives of the UNWTO. We look forward to returning next year and continuing to develop our long standing links with this event.”
Partner country the Dominican Republic, now established as a year round destination for holidaymakers and incentive tour operators, received much publicity. Growth prospects for the country are promising because of the country’s stable political situation and a steadily improving business and investment climate.
Magaly Toribio, vice minister of tourism for the Dominican Republic said the show had exceeded all their expectations and that exhibitors conducted more business this year than in 2007. Focus was not only from the German market but the international market as well.
The next ITB Berlin will take place from March 11 to 15, 2009, where the Ruhr - the European Capital of Culture in 2010 - will be the partner region.