Expected to generate around seven billion euros this year, ITB Berlin 2019 returns with a stark increase in Middle East participation, as Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and Expo 2020 Dubai make their debut at the show
In its 53rd year, ITB Berlin – taking place from March 6 to 10 this year – The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show – will bring together some 10,000 companies and organisations from 180 countries. The ITB Berlin Convention will be relocated to the CityCube to make space for the burgeoning Travel Technology section, which will expand by 20 per cent this year. The newly launched ITB Virtual Reality Lab will get a lot of attention this year as well as the TTA segment – technology, tours and activities. We speak to head of ITB Berlin, David Ruetz, who tells us that the demand from the Middle East has been especially high this year.
What new attractions and destinations will be on offer this year?
This year’s focus is on Malaysia, the official partner country, which is organising a big spectacle and colourful programme. Bulgaria, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland will celebrate their 50th anniversary as exhibitors at ITB Berlin. St. Helena Island is a newcomer to the show, also known as the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean where Napoleon was exiled and died. The ITB Berlin Convention will address key topics under the following headings: overtourism, global warming, sustainability, new customer expectations in the luxury travel market, and future mobility. There is also an emphasis on Adventure Travel and Sustainable Tourism. Hall 4.1b will be focusing on these trends and we will launch an ITB Virtual Reality Lab in hall 10.2. This is where top-speakers will give exciting insights into the importance of augmented and virtual reality for the travel industry.
Trend-wise, do you notice any changes in last year’s twin focus on luxury and travel technology?
Whereas luxury travel is concerned, we are seeing a trend towards seclusion and exclusiveness. These values are currently more in demand than traditional symbols of wealth. Customers want to experience something that is genuinely out of the ordinary. That can range from an underwater hotel to an exclusive treehouse.
As far as travel technology goes the market for tours and activities at destinations is currently booming. That is why we have devoted a new segment to this topic: TTA – Technology, Tours & Activities.
What are some key global highlights of the latest ITB World Travel Trends Report?
Cruises continue to be a massive boom market, with far higher growth figures than the global travel industry. In recent years, this market’s growth has been twice as strong, in fact in double-digit figures. The main growth driver is Asia, where demand has more than trebled since 2007. In Asia, over 27 million cruise trips were undertaken in 2017 alone.
A special analysis also showed the high impact millennials are having on the global travel industry – particularly luxury travel. People born between 1980 and 2000 account for around half of the customers in this segment.
Oman is the partner country for ITB Berlin 2020
Finally, the global tourism industry also benefits from the halal and Muslim travel market, yet another growth driver.
We are currently seeing huge growth in traveller numbers from Asia, where in 2018 outbound trips grew by an impressive eight per cent. A large percentage of those were undertaken within Asia. China reported the highest growth figures. Year by year, the number of people travelling from China increased by 13 per cent. In Europe, trips to Turkey are booming again. In recent years, this market has been very weak. Outbound trips from Latin America account for a large share of foreign trips from the Americas.
How many new exhibitors have signed on so far? Up or down from last year?
In 2019, as at the last event, we are expecting some 10,000 companies and organisations from 180 countries. In addition to regular exhibitors, some of whom will have larger displays at ITB Berlin, there are many who will be taking part for the first time. We have created more floor space in order to satisfy demand. For instance, the ITB Berlin Convention is relocating to the CityCube, the multi-purpose congress and trade fair venue. That has allowed us to expand Travel Technology by 20 per cent and devote an exclusive area of three adjacent halls to this topical segment, which was fully booked back in December.
What kind of participation can we expect to see from the Middle East this year, and what market segments?
Demand from this region has been especially high this year. That is reflected in the large number of bookings for Hall 2.2. New exhibitors there include the Saudi-Arabian General Investment Authority and Expo 2020 Dubai. Dubai itself has increased its participation in ITB Berlin. Oman, the partner country of ITB Berlin 2020, will be represented in larger numbers, as will Fujairah, the latest emirate to join the UAE. Egypt also has a larger stand in Hall 4.2, which is where Palestine can be found. Jordan will be represented nearby in Hall 4.1. Finally, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are presenting their tourism highlights in Hall 2.2. The United Arab Emirates can also be found in the Hotel Hall (Hall 9), alongside Lebanon and Iraq.