Wednesday 17 April 2024

The Oman and Saudi stands at the show. Image: Kim Thomson/TTN

ITB Berlin opens with 5,500 exhibitors; Oman Host Country

BERLIN, March 5, 2024

ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel trade show, opened today under the heading #ITBTOGETHER on the Berliner Exhibition Grounds, reporting a record number of 5,500 exhibitors from 170 countries. 
Oman is the Host Country for the show this year and other Arab states are also strongly being represented at the event. Strong growth is also seen in the Mobility, Travel Technology and Cruise segments.
The show recorded excellent bookings for a total of 150,000 sq m, equivalent to over 90 per cent of the display area. At 87 per cent, international participation in the event is at a record high. 
The ITB Buyers Circle with 1,300 senior buyers serves as an industry barometer and underlines the global importance of ITB Berlin.  The ITB Berlin Convention, the industry’s leading thinktank, examines global trends and highlights best practices with industry experts including from, TUI, Phocuswright and Google in order to shape tomorrow’s tourism.
Dr Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin, said: "ITB Berlin is the meeting place for the tourism industry’s entire value chain, once again underlining its global importance as a leading international trade show. The outstanding quality of our senior buyers and excellent bookings reflect upbeat travel demand. Once again, ITB Berlin is cementing its position as a global expert forum and hub for innovations and trends. Despite rising travel demand, our industry also faces many challenges such as climate change, an energy crisis, the march of AI and skills shortages. They can only be overcome together. That is why it is so important for us to gather all the actors in Berlin so we can benefit from mutual inspiration, learn from each other and work on solutions together."
Visitors in an exhibition hall at ITB Berlin
Taking as its slogan ’Beauty Has An Address’, this year’s Official Host Country Oman is strongly represented in Halls 2.2 and 4.1 and is taking part in a wide range of activities and events, including at the ITB Berlin Convention, as sponsor of the ITB Blogger Base, and as partner of the ITB MICE Night. The Sultanate is presenting 5,000 years of history and its rich cultural heritage at the show.
Among the highlights featuring Oman is the opening event on the eve of the show. A tour of the beauty and many facets of the country in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula awaits some 3,000 guests invited to the event, who include numerous prominent political and tourism industry figures. Political representatives Kai Wegner, Governing Mayor of Berlin, and Dieter Janecek, the Federal Government’s Coordinator for Maritime Economy and Tourism, will welcome the host country and those present. 
The travel industry will be represented by Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UN Tourism. 
On March 6, at Philharmonie Berlin, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamdan Al Shuaili will perform a concert spanning classical music and works from Oman. 
The slogan of the ITB Berlin Convention, the industry’s leading thinktank, is 'Pioneer the Transition in Travel & Tourism. Together’. Taking place with 17 theme tracks and on four live stages, 200 sessions featuring experts will discuss topics including travel technology, marketing & sales, future travel, MICE, sustainability, destination management, hospitality, social responsibility, business travel, future work, AI, web 3.0 and chatbots. Some 400 speakers representing big names such as, Phocuswright, TUI, the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF), Google, and Microsoft will provide fascinating insights on the future of tourism.
Global Travel Buyer Index
In cooperation with the leading management consultancy Dr Fried & Partner from Munich, the ITB Buyers Circle, a long-standing institution at ITB Berlin with its senior buyers, took part in a survey for the Global Travel Buyer Index (GTBI). A total of 1,000 handpicked buyers, selected for their purchasing volume, offered fascinating insights in the latest survey.
The majority of the first round of GTBI interviews took place between December 2023 and February of this year. The participation of several hundred members of the Buyers Circle offered an interesting look at the composition of the circle and the overall economic mood. Europe remained the leading source market, with Germany accounting for over 25 per cent. Asia and North America made up around 7 and 5 per cent respectively. The buying categories reflected a wide range of interests. Hotels dominated at around 81 per cent, while activities & events and DMC services each accounted for around 50 per cent. Transfers, flights, cruises and rental car services made up the remaining share of buyers’ interests.
Regarding the economic situation, the mood among ITB Buyers Circle members was upbeat. Over the past six months the majority reported higher order volumes year-on-year. The forecasts for the next six months were optimistic too, with around three-quarters expecting their order volume to increase.
ITB Innovation Radar – focus on industry visionaries
Following the platform’s launch in 2023, the second ITB Innovation Radar has expanded and features 16 innovations. The innovations being presented include B2B services for the hospitality sector and travel professionals, new services and sustainable concepts, and offer a preview of tomorrow’s upcoming trends.
GauVendi is presenting Inventi-Flow, an AI function for improving hotel booking allocations. WorldLine is working on AI-driven automatic payments, and Lato is presenting a new AI-based Trip Reader for a quick digital list of trips. GoodID Scanner offers a mobile ID scanning and remote verification and check-in solution for hotels and accommodation providers. This innovation speeds up check-ins by 70 per cent.
Mastercard is presenting its Tico Treasures platform which connects tourists and artisans. Tomorrow's Air of the Adventure Travel Trade Association provides travellers and tour operators with information on the importance of supporting carbon-neutral and sustainable aviation fuels. Yoummday hosts a technology platform for managing remote workers. Hotel Social by 80 DAYS is a training initiative for the hotel industry, and HiJiffy's Guest Communications Hub now features improved functions including mood analysis, self-learning AI and the first language assistant developed specifically for the hospitality industry.
Tour operators and agencies are focusing on innovative technologies. They include Chain4Travel's Camino Messenger, a blockchain platform, and FastSearch by ISO Travel Solutions, which makes searching for and calculating travel offers more efficient and user-friendly. FacilitaTrip is marketing a user-friendly tool for organising complex trips, while WeTravel has introduced a multi-currency checkout function. Kiosk by Sharebox and Game Rentacar are marketing innovative car rental solutions featuring automatic key safe systems. Mara Solutions is presenting MARA, a review management tool suggesting AI-based replies to visitor ratings.
Big global increase in outbound travel in 2023
IPK International’s latest World Travel Monitor findings show that, with double-digit growth, outbound travel in 2023 almost returned to pre-pandemic levels. Travel from Asia registered a surge of 140 per cent, while trips from Europe and the Americas also increased. The return of outbound travellers in Asia is a positive development, and despite rising travel costs interest in outbound travel remains high.
Clear favourites and trends were the hallmark of travel in 2023: Spain was the most-visited destination again, while Dubai was the highest-rated. Among the five highest-rated destinations behind Dubai were the Maldives, last year’s winner, South Africa and Abu Dhabi. Sun & beach destinations were extremely popular, reflecting continuing desire for this type of vacation, while air travel continues to be the most popular form of transport. 2023 was characterised by a significant rise in travel spending. The figures point to a keen desire to travel and the industry’s recovery. IPK International offers an optimistic outlook and forecasts a full recovery by late 2024, indicating an upward trend and growing confidence among travellers.
Networking and events in perfection
In 2024, ITB Berlin is again setting the pace for networking and event options in order to encourage face-to-face meetings between everyone at the show. “The wide range of events taking place on exhibitor stands, in meeting rooms, at evening events and the ITB Berlin Convention make ITB Berlin an authentic meeting place for business. This is where synergies are focused purely on the core activities of business, networking and content“, said Deborah Rothe, Director of ITB Berlin.
This year, the ever-popular ITB Speed Networking event is taking place on Thursday, 7 March from 9 to 10 a.m. It gives buyers and exhibitors an opportunity to meet for a pre-arranged eight-minute time slot in order to build leads and strengthen business. This optional service is free of charge – only exhibitors with a confirmed time slot using the Matchmaking Tool may take part in the ITB Speed Networking event. Afterwards, In addition to the members and friends of the ITB Buyers Circle, ITB Berlin is inviting all exhibitors to a one-hour open networking event in the CityCube Berlin. "There isn’t a Zoom conference in the world that can replace face-to-face dialogue. ITB Berlin is the industry’s most important platform for meeting in person”, Rothe added. Along with the popular ITB Speed Networking event, the ITB Chinese Night and ITB MICE Night are also taking place again.
For those unable to attend in person, a full digital ticket offers access to the virtual supporting platform ITBxplore and an opportunity to take part in ITB Berlin from the remotest parts of the world. ITBxplore features new functions to ensure everyone enjoys a successful visit to the show. The platform focuses on making preparations, including with the event programme, an interactive map of the grounds and by bookmarking favourites and networking. Users can make their profiles visible, search for exhibitors and also contact them and other attendees with the online chat function. Improved scheduling functions and the ability to check availability, as well as improved visibility with tagging for Buyers Circle members make ITBxplore even more user-friendly. - TradeArabia News Service


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