ITB Asia breaks records, launches new tech show

ITB Asia, the continent’s leading travel trade show, came to a close last month at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, having attracted 13,000 attendees from 132 countries and territories.

The show saw strong participation this year with over 1,300 exhibitors and more than 1,250 buyers. The three-day exhibition also saw more than 27,000 business appointments made, a 7.4 per cent year-on-year growth.

ITB Asia also introduced the new Buyers Elite Partner Programme (BEPP) this year. Under this new initiative, every partner that recommended 15 successful buyers to attend the show was able to receive complimentary hosting by ITB Asia.

In its 12th year running, this year’s conference programme brought together thought leaders from across the Mice, leisure, corporate, and travel tech sectors to explore how businesses can turn creative ideas into bold, yet practical, initiatives to keep pace with technological developments in the travel industry.

Across the three days of the conference, attendees were able to hear from more than 270 speakers, including representatives from, Expedia, IBM, OYO China, TripAdvisor, Tujia, among others.



We spoke to Katrina Leung, managing director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), for more.

“For the first time this year, ITB Asia organised the inaugural Mice Show Asia 2019, which focused on Asia Pacific’s burgeoning Mice sector. Highlight topics that were discussed during Mice Show Asia include 2020 forecasts for the global meeting and events and the digital transformation of the meeting and events industries.”

The market drivers for Mice business in Asia can largely be attributed to the ease of visa restrictions, investments in better infrastructure, and high demand in commercial aviation, Leung explains.

A recent forecast published by Allied Market Research on the global Mice market highlighted other significant factors that promote the growth of the market, including the rise in business travel coupled with change in lifestyle of business travellers to seek leisure trips, rapid urbanisation, and increase in disposable incomes.

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), Macau’s leading integrated resort, hospitality and entertainment group, officially introduced Galaxy International Convention Centre (GICC) and Galaxy Arena at the recently concluded ITB Asia. Galaxy International Convention Center, together with spectacular events venue Galaxy Arena, is set to establish Asia’s most iconic and advanced integrated Mice destination when it opens in Macau in the first half of 2021.


Leung tells TTN: “This year, ITB Asia had attracted unprecedented exhibition demand from a total of 58 national tourism organisations and regional tourism organisations, representing a year-on-year growth of 23.8 per cent and 25 per cent respective in the securing of exhibition space as compared to 2018. This has also surpassed previous levels set for ITB Asia by this stage in the year.”

Azerbaijan, with its Take Another Look campaign, was one of the national tourism organisations making its debut at ITB Asia this year. Azerbaijan Tourism Board’s CEO, Florian Sengstschmid, tells TTN: “From bubbling mud volcanoes to burning mountains, from Unesco World heritage sites to 4,000m high Caucasus mountains, medieval villages to state-of-the-art facilities Azerbaijan is a perfect blend of East and West.”

Sengstschmid says: “The Asian market is still a relatively small source market in total numbers but it is growing extensively. Most important source markets for Azerbaijan are regional neighbouring countries like Russia, Georgia, European countries and the Middle East.”

The Middle East market continues to perform ‘extremely positive’ for Azerbaijan. “By the end of September 2019, we received over 90,000 travellers from Middle East which is 21 per cent increase in comparison with the same period of 2018,” Sengstschmid tells TTN.

Moscow City Committee for Tourism, on another hand, visited ITB Asia to inform the trade about Moscow, its safety and value for money offers and to also listen to what travellers are looking for in a destination. Head of press office Konstantinos Akopyan, tells TTN: “Moscow received 5.5 million international visitors. The FIFA World Cup helped highlight Moscow and brought in new opportunities. While the top destinations are France, Germany and the US, with the Italy emerging in the first quarter of 2019, the Middle East has shown an increase with the new E Visa. In Q1 2020, Moscow City will launch the RussPass, a new digital platform for tourism, which will enable tourists to plan and build a three-, five- or seven-day visit.”



Travel technology has played an integral role in the travel industry, where its development and consumer’s demand for travel tech has resulted in the launch of the inaugural Travel Tech Asia 2020 next year. Leung tells TTN: “Travel Tech Asia 2020 will be under ITB Asia’s umbrella of events, and will be co-located with ITB Asia 2020 and Mice Show Asia 2020. With demand for travel technology in the Asian travel market, Travel Tech Asia 2020 aims to provide the community with a platform for in-depth discussions on how technology can disrupt and transform the travel landscape.

“With Asia-Pacific expected to witness the highest growth rate of 8.6 per cent through to 2023 on the global Mice market, factors such as technological advancements are expected to provide new opportunities for growth of this market,” says Leung.

At ITB Asia, Genting Cruise Lines officially announced the world premiere and unveiling of Global Dream and its new hull artwork entitled “A Dream Through time and Space” the work of Shanghai native and London based illustrator ShanJiang. Global Dream is Asia’s largest cruise ship comprising 19 decks, 2,350 of the cruise industry’s largest cabins, with a capacity of 9,000 people, ready to set sail in 2021. “There will also be a ship within a ship The Palace which will cater for the luxury end of the market,” Ong Hsieh Leon, assistant VP Corporate Communications and Michael Go, President Dream Cruises & Head of Sales, from Genting Cruises, tell TTN.

The Global Dream will have nine themed districts within the ship, with theme parks including the longest roller coaster on a cruise ship. The food and beverage offering includes Asian and international and includes halal options.

Dr Christian Göke, chief executive officer, Messe Berlin, says: “After 12 years, ITB Asia experienced strong growth again. This new record clearly demonstrates that the show is well accepted by the industry around the world as the must-attend event in Asia. Messe Berlin is delighted to continue the strategic partnership with Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) from 2020 to 2022. We very quickly realised that not only could we benefit from the extension, but that the whole of the global travel industry stood to benefit as well. I am also pleased to know that every year the team and all partners involved work hard to design ITB Asia to go right to the heart of the industry. At ITB, we build unforgettable emotions that link our industry with its people. Attendees can walk away with new inspiration, cultivating relationships and tangible takeaways.”

Marina Bay Sands will see a renewal of its partnership with Messe Berlin (Singapore) as the show’s official partner hotel, while the extension of the relationship with STB will see Singapore as the host country for ITB Asia for the next three years of the show.

Great interest is already being expressed for ITB Asia’s 2020 edition with more than 3,500 of exhibition space being booked for next year’s show. Among others, these will include Korea Tourism Organisation, Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, Singapore Tourism Board, Spain Tourism Board and Visit Finland. In addition, ITB Asia 2020 will be introducing Travel Tech Asia as a new show under ITB Asia’s umbrella of events. Travel Tech Asia will provide the travel-tech community with a platform to connect, create and enhance the way people travel, meet and do business, with technology.

* With inputs from Kim Thomson