ITB Berlin turns 52 this year, as 10,000 exhibitors and organisations from over 180 countries connect with 170,000 visitors in 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. Luxury travel, travel technology and sustainability take centre stage this year, but the halal travel market is also acknowledged with a dedicated session
ITB Berlin returns this year from March 7 to 11, to facilitate seven billion euros in travel business. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the partner region of this year’s show. Luxury travel, travel technology and sustainability take centre stage this year, but the halal travel market is also acknowledged with a dedicated session. Last year, saw ITB Berlin redo its hall space and move exhibitors around according to markets. It was a risk that the exhibition took, but the feedback has only been positive, David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, tells TTN. Here’s an excerpt:
What new attractions and destinations will be on offer in the 2018 chapter of ITB Berlin?
The countdown to the 52nd ITB Berlin from March 7 to 11 this year has begun: many of the halls at the world’s largest travel trade show are already fully booked.
The focus is on Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the partner region of this year’s show. It is organising the opening event, which for the first time will leave a zero-carbon footprint, setting an important trend. Over the five days of the show, the German federal state will be exhibiting its wide range of tourism products in Halls 6.2a and 4.1.
Strong focus on Luxury: Luxury travel is booming, while general attitudes towards this market are changing. These challenges, as well as the opportunities, concern the industry and will be key topics at ITB Berlin and who will be collaborating with Loop, a unique trade show for luxury products. Together with a network of exclusive exhibitors, Loop will be the place to head for buyers of luxury products at the entrance to Hall 9. On the Thursday of the show the first ITB Luxury Late Night will provide an opportunity to cultivate the contacts made.
The Travel Technology segment is booming and the waiting list is long. Unfortunately, for capacity reasons, we have been unable to meet every request for floor space. Chinese exhibitor numbers are growing especially fast. The online portal Ctrip will be exhibiting its products at ITB Berlin for the first time.
After long absences, Belize, Guayana, French Guiana and the Turks and Caicos Islands will be returning in 2018.
Is ITB Berlin focusing on halal travel this year? Can you explain what are the findings in this regard in the ITB World Travel Trends Report?
ITB Berlin will dedicate a session on halal tourism on Wednesday, March 9 about the boom of this travel segment and the growing share of digital-oriented millennials. A panel of experts will discuss about how to target this clientele and how to address them on the base of current studies. Guests on stage will be Fazal Bahardeen, CEO, Crescent Rating & Halal Trip, Aisha Islam, vice-president of consumer products, South East Asia, Mastercard as well as Raudha Zaini, marketing manager, HalalTrip.
With about 60 per cent of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims aged under 30, this segment of the world population could become the next biggest consumer market according to the 25th World Travel Monitor Forum. International fashion retailers, for example, are already targeting young Muslim women with “modest fashion” creations, Fazal Bahardeen pointed out.
Overall, Muslims are estimated to have spent about $142 billion on travel in 2014, and to have accounted for about 121 million arrivals worldwide in 2016. These figures could rise to spending of $220 billion and 158 million arrivals in 2020, Bahardeen predicted. At present, Asia (57 per cent) and Europe (30 per cent) are the two main destination regions for Muslim travellers.
In terms of regional markets, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, represent the biggest outbound market by spending, although not by numbers, Bahardeen said. South-East Asia, including Malaysia and Indonesia, is the next biggest market. In Europe, the UK, Germany and France jointly account for about 10 to 12 per cent of Muslim outbound travel spending. Turkey and Iran are other significant markets.
How many exhibitors and visitors do you expect at this year's show?
Altogether, we expect around 10,000 exhibitors and organisations from over 180 countries and some 170,000 visitors to attend the 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds.
How many new exhibitors have signed on so far? Up or down from last year?
It is quite similar to the previous year.
Travel Tech: The Hospitality Industry Club is a newcomer and will be highlighting the excellent prospects of this fast-growing segment. Ctrip will be exhibiting its products for the first time at ITB Berlin and other newcomers from China will include Flightroutes, Ucloudlink, Letsfly, Qyer and Qup.
Due to high demand, Medical tourism, which was introduced only last year, is moving to a larger hall (21b). Newcomers in this segment will include VisitBerlin and Berlin Health Excellence, as well Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which will occupy a large stand.
The Indian state of Jharkhand is a newcomer to the show, as are Earth Routes and many smaller tour operators in hall 5.2b, where ayurveda and yoga will be major attractions again.
What kind of participation can we expect to see from the Middle East, and what market segments?
The Middle East countries play a very important role as a very fast-growing tourism destination and demand for places at ITB Berlin is particularly high. As an emerging travel destination the United Arab Emirates (Hall 2.2) are now expanding into the market. Abu Dhabi has almost doubled the size of its stand, and the displays of Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah are much larger than last year. Exhibitors from UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Lebanon will be presenting their many products and services on their stands which altogether now occupy 3,200 sq m in total.
What inbound and outbound travel trends do you notice in Germany, especially in relation to the GCC?
According to DZT (German National Tourist Board), Germany has seen constant growth from the GCC countries over the past years and predicts ongoing growth in the next years also. Germany is the top destination for travellers in Europe. About two-thirds are holiday trips compared to approximately one-third business trips.
Among cities, Munich ranks top – followed by Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin. Top regions are Bavaria as well as Hessen, Nordrhein-Westfalen and Baden-Württemberg. Travellers from GCC countries stay approximately 11 days and book relatively short before their trips. Especially luxury hotels are more and more suitable for guests from the region – for example, by offering halal food, prayer rooms or an arrow in rooms identifying directions to Makkah. Also, there is a large number of travel agencies/incoming agencies specialised in Arab guests. The neighbouring country Austria has recently initiated a ban of full-face veils in public. This could possibly lead to a shift of visitors in favour for Germany this summer.
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