Among the noteworthy news-items coming out of this year’s ITB-Berlin show is the launch of a Far-East version of the show in Singapore in October of this year. ITB-Berlin’s first show was in 1966 and almost immediately became the pre-eminent travel fair with its modest star of nine exhibitors from five countries. The total number of visitors that year was 250! In 2008 more than 11,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries are showcasing their wares with many erstwhile unknowns such as Russia having a hugely expanded footprint (New York too expanded its space although fewer hotel companies were there). First time visitors include Palau and YAP from Micronesia, and the island of Zanzibar.
While there are no country sponsors this year (India was the sponsor last year) the Asian component expanded last year to the point of needing a separate show of its own. That is increasingly evident from the fact that in the long term the Asian market is set to become one of the most important source markets for worldwide tourism with India and China playing a not unimportant role. While individual Chinese nationals still face considerable visa hurdles to get to the US, group travel from there to the US is growing rapidly. The fourth (and biggest thus far) outbound tour show from China, the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market show is to get underway from 14th to 16th April 2008 and, once again, America is all but unrepresented in what could potentially be a huge market.