50 Years of ITB Berlin: Fully booked exhibition halls, more trade visitors than ever before, and record sales

ITB logo for pubGlobal travel industry withstands geopolitical crises and remains on course for vigorous expansion – Record attendance by some 120,000 trade visitors over five days – ITB an international success story: in addition to ITB Asia in Singapore, ITB China will take place in Shanghai from 2017

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A reliable indicator of the state of the industry, an indispensable networking platform and invaluable for providing an impetus for one of the world’s more important industries: as it marked its 50th anniversary ITB Berlin again underlined its importance as the leading trade show for the global travel industry. Summing up the five day trade show on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds: the international travel industry has shown its resilience in the face of the refugee crisis and geopolitical risks, demonstrating that it remains in a robust state as a vigorously expanding industry despite difficult global conditions.

In Germany, one of the most important source markets for international tourism, the uncertainty of the first weeks of the year is clearly being replaced by a growing confidence. After a somewhat restrained start to the 2016 travel season, the desire among the German public for vacation trips is currently being accompanied by an ongoing positive mood among consumers and a stable job market. Moreover, a reduction in the cost of living and above all the sharp fall in energy prices have given consumers in the Eurozone additional financial scope for the most enjoyable weeks of the year.

As it takes place for the 50th time ITB Berlin is stronger than ever: from 9 to 13 March some 10,000 exhibiting companies from 187 countries and regions met with 120,000 trade visitors in the 26 exhibition halls, which had been booked up months in advance. These were the estimated figures given by Messe Berlin on Sunday, at the close of ITB Berlin 2016. They reveal that the world’s leading trade show for the international travel industry attracted the largest number of trade visitors since it was launched in 1966. On the purchasing side there was also a further increase in the number of decision-makers: two thirds of the trade visitors stated that they held direct authority for all purchasing decisions.

Business conducted during the trade show rose from last year’s figure of 6.7 billion euros to around seven billion this year.

Dr. Christian Göke, Chief Executive Officer of Messe Berlin: “Never before in its 50 years has ITB Berlin welcomed so many trade visitors to the exhibition halls. After this five day event trade visitors and exhibitors are leaving Berlin with a clear message: even in times dominated by a “sense of uncertainty“ people are not willing to do without their holiday trips. Conversely, over the past few days the travel industry has made it clear that it can provide suitable answers to the major challenges that it currently faces.“ ITB Berlin has again provided evidence that this trade show, a global market place and a platform for personal encounters, provides a “firm foundation for the industry during turbulent times“, and in the digital age too it has lost none of its importance for the travel industry all over the world.

Dr. Christian Göke: “Currently ITB Berlin is not only one of the most important trade shows taking place in Berlin but, over the past five decades it has been a significant economic factor for our city. This international show for the global travel industry has also been a remarkable success story for the trade fair sector in Germany, and this is something of which our company and the Berliners too can be very proud. In terms of its exhibitors and its trade visitors, no other show anywhere in the world has an international structure that can compare in any way with it. ITB Berlin is “more than just a trade show“ – today, all over the world, it represents Germany, symbolizing hospitality and serving as a practical example of international understanding.” The travel trade show that was held for the first time in Berlin 50 years ago has now evolved into a real international success: ITB Asia has been held annually in Singapore since 2008. Furthermore, as Messe Berlin has recently announced, from May 2017, ITB China will be taking place annually in the populous city of Shanghai in cooperation with that country’s major tour operators and travel agents.

The world’s largest convention for the global travel industry attracted a record attendance. The 200 events at the ITB Convention were attended by over 26,000 visitors. It was taking place for the 13th time and occupied eight halls on the Exhibition Grounds. The main themes at the ITB Convention, which is regarded as the “think tank“ for the international industry, were “Travel 4.0“ and the complete digitalization of all the various business processes of travel companies. Due to the evident willingness of many travelers to spend, the subject of luxury travel also attracted a great deal of interest.

Discussions also took place about the opportunities and risks facing tourism as a consequence of the influx of refugees to Europe. With the first appearance in Europe by a humanoid robot from Japan – clad as an elegant trade show hostess – visitors to ITB Berlin were able to see for themselves how engineers and scientists view the future of a service-based industry. The importance of ITB Berlin as an economic and social platform was underlined by the presence of many prominent speakers. Among those providing information and inspiration for the participants in the Convention were Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Dr. Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Professor Dr. Hans-Werner Sinn, President of the ifo Institute – Leibniz-Institute for Economic Research.

On the Saturday and Sunday the halls were thronged with visitors. According to a provisional estimate by the organizers, some 60,000 members of the public took advantage of the wide range of information available from tour operators, including those representing niche markets. As in previous years, during the weekend visitors were able to make travel bookings at ITB Berlin. Between 9 and 13 March ITB Berlin attracted some 180,000 visitors.

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