This year’s ITB Berlin was again a success despite political controversies but fewer trade visitors came due to a strike at Berlin’s airports.
About 109,000 trade visitors attended the world’s leading travel trade show last week which has been hailed by senior industry figures as a clear success despite being partly overshadowed by political disputes. This number was about 11,000 fewer trade participants than last year when some 120,000 professional visitors attended the five-day event.
However, this drop was due to the 24-day strike at Berlin’s two airports on Friday March 10 when virtually all flights were cancelled, according to organiser Messe Berlin. Moreover, international trade visitor numbers increased significantly and the number of participants in the 14th ITB Berlin Convention increased by 8% to a new record of 28,000 delegates. About 60,000 German consumers from Berlin and other areas visited ITB at the weekend.
Summing up ITB Berlin 2017, Messe Berlin underlined that two thirds of the 109,000 trade visitors were directly authorised to buy travel products from the more than 10,000 exhibitors from 184 countries and regions, with one third able to spend more than €10 million. Face-to-face meetings between business partners from around the world have become increasingly important, especially at a time of uncertainty and geopolitical challenges, it added.
High-profile events such as the opening ceremony, various press conferences and conference presentations had a more political aspect this year as speakers used the opportunity to emphasise the role of tourism and to criticise (directly or indirectly) the words and actions of US President Trump and Turkey’s President Erdogan, among others.
Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said both exhibitors and visitors at ITB Berlin will return home this year with a message that is just as strong as it is clear: “Racism, protectionism, populism and barriers between nations are not compatible with a prospering tourism industry. The travel industry is one of the biggest branches of the global economy and one of its most important employers. It promotes international understanding in many ways and contributes to long-term economic growth. In many countries tourism is vital to people’s livelihoods and ultimately guarantees economic stability.”
Dr. Michael Frenzel, President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW), commented: “The world came together in Berlin, and here at ITB Berlin there were no borders or walls. There was a natural mingling of different nations and cultures, and that is exactly the message we have to take home and pass on to the world. Walls must be torn down and not new ones built, both in people’s minds and on the ground. Travel and tourism promotes international understanding, and in order to do so our customers must continue to be able to travel freely. Naturally governments must protect their citizens. However, total security does not exist, which is why one must seek to create and maintain a balance between security and freedom.”
Moreover, the outlook for this year is good at a global, European and German level, according to forecasts from the World Tourism Organization, researchers IPK and FUR, the German Travel Association (DRV) and others.
DRV president Norbert Fiebig said: “The prospects for 2017 are very good. The lust for travel among Germans remains unbroken. Many people have already decided on a destination and booked their summer holiday. Others are busily planning their holidays for the best time of the year.”
The next ITB Berlin will take place from 7 to 11 March 2018.