The world’s largest Travel Trade Fair, ITB Berlin 2023, has successfully concluded with around 5,500 exhibitors from 161 countries, maintaining its status as the premier venue for the international travel industry.
Notwithstanding the challenging market conditions, the international travel sector was thrilled with the enormous demand and people’s thirst for travel at ITB Berlin. The World’s Leading Travel Trade Fair returned after a pause caused by the pandemic with the theme “Open for Change” and, for the first time, was a B2B-only event, reaffirming its position as the top platform for the international travel industry.
A total of 90,127 people from more than 180 nations were in Berlin for the three working days. The 1,300-member ITB Buyers’ Circle for ITB Berlin was a resounding success. Leading buyers in the travel sector were the only ones allowed to join this restricted group. As a result, their sales volume significantly rose, and overall international participation jumped from 50 per cent in 2019 to 70 per cent.
The approximately 5,500 exhibitors from 161 different nations were diverse and multinational, which was equally stunning. ITB Berlin also received much media attention; 333 travel bloggers, 3,000 media representatives, and prominent international politicians were there.
The travel industry agreed at ITB Berlin that 2023 might set a record because of a growing appetite for travel in many world regions. Only the Asia-Pacific area is slightly behind, partly because China opened its borders later than expected.
“Over the past few days the tourism industry has displayed incredible confidence despite the difficult overall situation and geopolitical crises “, said Dirk Hoffmann, Managing Director of Messe Berlin.
“This year’s ITB Berlin was proof of the vital need to meet face-to-face. We are delighted with the trade show’s spectacular comeback as a live event and the huge response from exhibitors and visitors. Our industry is a people’s business, and not without reason – everyone at ITB Berlin agreed with that”.
The wish to interact in person was demonstrated by various networking formats, such as the ITB Fast Networking event, get-togethers and events on exhibitor booths, and evening activities on the exhibition grounds and in Berlin’s city center.
High-profile individuals attended the ITB Berlin Conference, providing extensive specialized topics instruction. There were 200 sessions across 18 theme tracks and 400 internationally renowned top speakers who addressed urgent issues and modern trends, including digitalization, artificial intelligence, and the skills gap.
Experts provided strategies for transforming the industry’s urgent global concerns into opportunities under the “Mastering Transformation” banner. In addition, the largest international think tank for the tourism sector hosted lectures, panels, and debates with 24,000 attendees.
Notwithstanding the happiness and elation that followed the global market recovery, the sector acknowledged that having survived the pandemic, it faced formidable obstacles.
Before the pandemic, there was growing concern that “business as usual” would no longer be feasible and that growth could only be achieved by considering all facets of sustainability.
The World’s Largest Travel Trade Fair has traditionally prioritized socially responsible travel. It once again featured various panel discussions, seminars, and lectures to increase awareness of social responsibility in tourism.
To promote gender equality in tourism, the Equality in Tourism Award will be given for the first time on International Women’s Day at ITB Berlin in 2023. The winner was the Costa Rican tour operator Travel Excellence, followed by Adventure Woman from the United States and Etur from Ecuador.
The industry’s upbeat attitude was also reflected in the fully booked halls. This year’s event included an exceptionally high number of exhibitors in the Travel Tech and Cruise categories. The Arab nations were particularly strongly represented in various areas.
Overall, many exhibitors held noticeably larger exhibits this year, and numerous travel companies returned after an extended absence, while others were first-timers. In addition, Hub27, a brand-new multipurpose venue, debuted to favorable reviews.
Georgia, the Official Host Country, also warmly welcomed visitors. With “Infinite Hospitality” as its tagline, the location showcased its tourism attractions at a grand opening event the night before the show, attended by the host nation and prominent business and political figures.
B2B visitors learned about the variety of tourist attractions the Caucasus region offers by visiting the new multipurpose hall hub27, Hall 4.1, the south entrance, and participating in numerous activities and events held throughout the exhibition grounds.
The following ITB Berlin will be held on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds from March 5–7, 2024 (Tuesday–Thursday).
*The total number of exhibitors without additionally represented companies who, as co-exhibitors, solely distribute information material, for example.
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Image: Courtesy of ISTO