Paraskevi-triskaidekaphobia is a mouthful to describe an irrational phobia – the fear of Friday the 13th. But neither that nor Peniaphobia, the fear of poverty that seems to be driving US consumers to keep their wallets shut, seems to have kept exhibitors from ITB. Travel Daily News reported that "the 43rd ITB Berlin 2009 opened on 11 March, with
almost the same number of exhibitors as last year, despite the global
economic downturn. Event organisers Messe Berlin reported that all
available space had been booked by 11,098 companies from 187 countries
– only 49 fewer exhibiting companies than in 2008".
Besides many renewals, the exhibition features some new ones, many of whom negotiated better rates with the forum organizers for space, including India's MAHARAJAS’ EXPRESS, that nation's first trans-country super luxury train which at $2,500 per night is probaby the most expensive train ride anyone could take. Others such as the Emirate of Abu Dhabi set up shop for the first time via its Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.
The US presence, while less than the previous year in terms of new exhibitors, in its relatively new location at hall (2.1) has continued to improve on its heretofore image of exclusivity and seclusion with easy access and, surprisingly, finding itself next to Russia. Nevertheless, as in previous years, the level of state (government) involvement was more negative than positive. While the Russians were busy staging folk dances with much merriment, the US stand was the only one which had a stall devoted exclusively to Customs and Border Protection. Tour and travel personnel do need to be aware of the byzantine rules that keep changing for tourist entry (even for visa waiver countries) to the US especially when compared to entry to the EU which although also uses biometrics for visitors limits it to during the visa process, if one is necessary.