ITB Berlin which concludes on March 14th had an unprecedented start on the 10th in terms of exhibitors.Messe-Berlin, the agency that runs the world's largest tourism show, reports that over 11,000 exhibitors from 187 countries showed up despite reduced travel budgets and a continuing overhang from the financial recession. An interesting addition is the fair's social media lounge which featured papers and discussions about various aspects of social media most of which were led by the leader in the field Phocuswright There was no charge for the sessions). As has been the practice in recent years, there was a country sponsor with Turkey filling that role with reps from the country doing a stellar job offering tasty Turkish bites and even bottled sea-water (which caused a commotion in the stands as many mistook it for free Vodka!)
The US pavilion, although again in the basement level, was fully booked including with new exhibitor, IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association). The focus of the US, though was the newly signed Travel Promotion Act which was discussed at a press conference on March 12th. Most journalists questions revolved around the $10 fee including whether or not credit cards will be accepted (not yet) and on ESTA In an indication of continued strong German interest in the US, a press event on the morning of March 13th in the Hong-Kong room however, had a full complement of journalists, print and online, keen on running stories on most US states. US Ambassador Philip Murphy and Roger Dow spoke about the central role of inter-country tourism.
ITB Aviation Day had speakers from Turkish Airlines, Air Berlin and Garuda noting the flight of premium passengers from their midst owing to the great recession and about how the industry expects further consolidation and joint ventures between airlines. While their prognosis did not indicate a quick resumption in travel by premium passengers, the Financial Times has a report quoting IATA that "airlines are recovering from the global financial crisis more quickly
than expected, with a surge in passenger numbers on a reduced number of
aircraft leading to a rise in ticket prices." Those are certainly good portends for travel and hospitality. That could well be the takeaway from this year's ITB