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2024 ITB BERLIN NEWS - REVIEW Edition

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<strong>REVIEW</strong><br />

THURSDAY 14 MARCH <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

TOURISM'S<br />

BRIGHT HORIZONS<br />

NAVIGATING TOMORROW'S<br />

SUCCESS TOGETHER<br />

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW<br />

“DEEP AND<br />

TRUSTING<br />

BUSINESS<br />

RELATIONSHIPS<br />

CAN ONLY<br />

DEVELOP WHEN<br />

WE MEET IN<br />

REAL LIFE”<br />

Dr Mario Tobias<br />

CEO of Messe Berlin<br />

SEEN @ <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

GEORGIA<br />

CONTINUED<br />

TO BUILD ON<br />

LAST YEAR'S<br />

SUCCESS AT<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong><br />

<strong>2024</strong><br />

#16<br />

#19<br />

#13<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong><br />

CONVENTION<br />

MIRELA KUMBARO<br />

Albania's Minister of Tourism<br />

and the Environment


I <strong>NEWS</strong> I<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin remains the undisputed leading trade<br />

show for professionals in the tourism industry<br />

All signs pointed to success in <strong>2024</strong> as <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin continued to shape the future<br />

and once again underlined its role as the international platform for business,<br />

innovation and networking<br />

With nearly 100,000 attendees, <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

exceeded expectations despite strike circumstances.<br />

More than 5,500 exhibitors from 170 countries were<br />

present, occupying 27 exhibition halls. Around<br />

3,200 accredited journalists from 103 countries and<br />

over 300 bloggers reported on <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year.<br />

The show was also once again a meeting place for<br />

politicians and diplomats with almost 80 ministers<br />

and state secretaries as well as 72 ambassadors in<br />

attendance.<br />

Dr Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe<br />

Berlin, was very positive in his<br />

evaluation of the show this year,<br />

stating that “<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin once again<br />

mirrored industry developments"<br />

and that overall feedback was<br />

overwhelmingly positive. For<br />

more information and details on<br />

the CEO's reflections, a full indepth<br />

interview is available on<br />

page 16.<br />

The re-opening of five refurbished<br />

halls this year brought<br />

improvements in many areas.<br />

For the first time, the Germanspeaking<br />

countries were all<br />

under one roof in hub27. China,<br />

Liechtenstein and Emirates airline<br />

were welcomed back to the show,<br />

along with newcomers Dominica,<br />

the Cayman Islands and Disney<br />

Cruise Lines. <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin’s host<br />

country Oman made a strong<br />

showing, doubling its display size<br />

to more than 800 m 2 .<br />

The travel industry as a driving<br />

force for innovation was<br />

highlighted at the <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

Convention this year, which<br />

featured high-profile attendees<br />

and a total of 400 leading<br />

international speakers at 200<br />

sessions and 17 theme tracks.<br />

Around 24,000 attendees<br />

participated, underlining the<br />

convention's role as the industry’s<br />

leading international think-tank.<br />

The <strong>ITB</strong> Buyers Circle with its<br />

1,300 top buyers served as an<br />

industry barometer. Together with<br />

the management consultancy<br />

Dr. Fried & Partner, <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

compiled the new Global Travel<br />

Buyer Index. The survey asked<br />

several hundred Buyers Circle<br />

members about the economic<br />

mood and their business<br />

goals. The findings provided<br />

an optimistic outlook for travel<br />

business over the next six<br />

months<br />

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE<br />

AT THE CENTRE OF <strong>ITB</strong><br />

<strong>BERLIN</strong> CONVENTION<br />

AI was in the spotlight at the <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

Convention this year, with a dedicated AI Track<br />

for the first time. Industry leaders and thinkers<br />

generally agreed that no organisation or<br />

company could ignore AI in the current industry<br />

landscape. It was also a major topic for the <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Innovation Radar, which celebrated its second<br />

edition this year.<br />

Jeremy Sampson, CEO of the Travel Foundation,<br />

also appealed to the tourism industry to aim for<br />

net zero by 2030. His study entitled "Envisioning<br />

Tourism in 2030 and Beyond" outlined a path<br />

with a focus on regulating air travel and 40<br />

measures for achieving sustainable tourism by<br />

2050.<br />

On the second day of the show, Messe Berlin<br />

management and representatives of Albania<br />

sealed their partnership for Albania to be the<br />

Official Host Country of <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin 2025 by<br />

signing the agreement. The next <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin will<br />

take place from 4 to 6 March 2025<br />

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<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 5


I <strong>NEWS</strong> I<br />

TO DO Awards distinguished<br />

CSR initiatives in tourism at<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

Three CSR and responsible tourism initiatives based in<br />

Africa, Asia and South America were distinguished with a<br />

"TO DO" Award at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Michael Kajubi<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

The award ceremony of the TO DO<br />

Award Socially Responsible Tourism<br />

and the TO DO Award Human Rights<br />

in Tourism took place on 6 March, <strong>2024</strong><br />

with <strong>ITB</strong> CSR Commissionner Rika<br />

Jean-François presenting the awards.<br />

The awards ceremony highlighted<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin's commitment to CSR as a<br />

founding member of The Roundtable<br />

Human Rights in Tourism.<br />

With the international "TO DO Award"<br />

competition, The Roundtable Human<br />

Rights in Tourism has been honouring<br />

initiatives that are committed to<br />

sustainable and socially responsible<br />

tourism since 1995. Winners are<br />

selected for their active involvement<br />

of the local population, the creation<br />

of income opportunities for locals<br />

in tourism and the promotion of<br />

intercultural encounters between<br />

hosts and guests.<br />

This year's TO DO Award <strong>2024</strong> for<br />

socially responsible tourism went to<br />

the Community Tourism Yunguilla<br />

project in Ecuador and the Fernweh<br />

Fair Travel - Uplifting Communities<br />

project in India. The first awarded an<br />

initiative in the UNESCO-classified<br />

biosphere reserve Chocó Andino de<br />

Pichincha to transform a community<br />

towards ecotourism in a bio-diverse<br />

forest region. The second is a womenled<br />

project in the Indian Himalayas<br />

offering work opportunities to<br />

vulnerable groups such as widows<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Innovation Radar:<br />

A spotlight on industry<br />

visionaries<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Innovation Radar,<br />

which was first introduced<br />

during last year's edition<br />

of <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin, offers<br />

an ideal platform for<br />

showcasing innovations<br />

capable of producing a<br />

sustainable impact on<br />

the future of the travel<br />

industry and provides<br />

visitors a glimpse of up<br />

and coming trends.<br />

and victims of domestic violence. It<br />

combines nature-based adventures<br />

with indigenous culture.<br />

The TO DO Human Rights in Tourism<br />

Award <strong>2024</strong> went to Michael Kajubi<br />

from Uganda. For many years, he<br />

and his foundation the McBern<br />

Foundation have been committed<br />

works to creating non-discriminatory<br />

spaces and jobs for people living<br />

on the margins of Ugandan society,<br />

including youths, elderly people and<br />

those who experience family rejection<br />

due to their sexual orientation or<br />

gender identity. The foundation's work<br />

exhibitors, up from last year's<br />

11, and included products and<br />

services from both ambitious startups<br />

and major industry players. In<br />

addition, three innovators came<br />

back this year with new products<br />

and features, proving the ongoing<br />

interest in <strong>ITB</strong> Innovation Radar as a<br />

valuable outreach platform.<br />

Entries ranged from B2B services for<br />

hospitality and travel professionals<br />

to initiatives promoting sustainable<br />

travel. Highlights included AIpowered<br />

offerings such as<br />

GauVendi's Inventi-Flow to further<br />

improve hotel capacity allocation;<br />

Worldline's AI-initiated Autonomous<br />

Payments, which implements<br />

conversational commerce with an<br />

AI personal shopper, and Lato's<br />

new AI-based Trip Reader feature<br />

for creating digital travel proposals.<br />

focuses in particular on educational<br />

programmes, skill development and<br />

support in the health sector<br />

platform, which connects tourists<br />

and artisans, and Adventure Travel<br />

Trade Association's Tomorrow's Air,<br />

focused on educating travellers and<br />

travel businesses about the viability<br />

and importance of supporting<br />

the scale-up of carbon removal<br />

technologies and sustainable<br />

aviation fuel.<br />

Cutting-edge technologies with<br />

tour operators and agencies in mind<br />

included FastSearch by ISO Travel<br />

Solutions, a search technology<br />

designed to make the search and<br />

price calculation of travel offers<br />

more efficient and FacilitaTrip, a<br />

customisable, user-friendly tool for<br />

creating complex trips.<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

Read the full list of <strong>ITB</strong> Innovation<br />

Radar Entries in <strong>2024</strong> here<br />

This year's edition featured 16<br />

entries submitted by <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

Among the sustainable travel entries<br />

were Mastercard's Tico Treasures<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 7


I <strong>NEWS</strong> I<br />

A COMPELLING REASON TO VISIT<br />

SELANGOR AND MALAYSIA IN<br />

GENERAL RIGHT NOW IS THE<br />

FAVOURABLE CURRENCY EXCHANGE<br />

RATE FOR EUROPEAN AND OTHER<br />

GLOBAL TOURISTS, WHICH MAKES IT<br />

A VERY GOOD BARGAIN<br />

Azrul Shah Mohamad<br />

CEO, Tourism Selangor<br />

Selangor showcased its array of unique experiences<br />

and over 100 events and festivals at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin News spoke with Azrul Shah Mohamad, the CEO of Tourism Selangor,<br />

about the Malaysian state's wide range of experiences and events<br />

The state highlighted its original multi-segment offerings<br />

with the "Splendid Selangor Take Me Anywhere" campaign<br />

it promoted at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year.<br />

What were Selangor Tourism’s<br />

objectives at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year?<br />

We promoted our campaign "Splendid<br />

Selangor Take Me Anywhere" for the<br />

international market, highlighting the<br />

fact that Selangor has more than 100<br />

events and festivals planned such as<br />

the Wings of Kuala Kubu Bharu in<br />

Hulu Selangor bird watching event,<br />

a beach festival, a half marathon, the<br />

Ban Canl Carnival, and lots of other<br />

events throughout the year. By the<br />

end of <strong>2024</strong> we are targeting 5.6<br />

million tourists.<br />

We also showcased our Visit<br />

Selangor Year 2025 initiative for next<br />

year, under which we are looking<br />

to attract seven million tourists. We<br />

need to start this year with promotion<br />

and by creating brand awareness<br />

and we did that at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin, a<br />

show we absolutely could not miss.<br />

So many countries and regions are<br />

represented at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin and with<br />

our presence we looked to inform<br />

people that Selangor is in Malaysia<br />

and has a lot to offer in and of itself.<br />

Kuala Lumpur International Airport<br />

is in Selangor so when people come<br />

to Malaysia, they are actually already<br />

in Selangor. That's why we want to<br />

make them aware of the wider region<br />

and everything it has to offer.<br />

How is Selangor promoting itself as<br />

a compelling destination?<br />

Selangor is the most developed state<br />

in Malaysia and has nine unique<br />

districts, all of which have unique<br />

offerings across multiple segments.<br />

For the global market, we are now<br />

concentrating on certain segments<br />

like ecotourism, agrotourism, arts<br />

and culture, and food tourism, as<br />

well as theme parks, and adventure<br />

tourism offerings.<br />

There are lots of countries and<br />

regions offering ecotourism, but<br />

we strive to include elements of<br />

experiential tourism as well. This<br />

means that when visitors come to<br />

Selangor, they can stay with the<br />

villagers, and can be a part of their<br />

families, and they can participate<br />

in unique experiences like firefly<br />

watching.<br />

Another compelling reason to visit<br />

Selangor and Malaysia in general<br />

right now is the favourable currency<br />

exchange rate for European and<br />

other global tourists, which makes it<br />

a very good bargain and stretches<br />

visitors' budgets, allowing them to<br />

stay longer.<br />

Food tourism is also a major point<br />

of interest and is becoming bigger<br />

and bigger because Selangor has<br />

everything from traditional food to<br />

fusion food, and that is very appealing<br />

to international tourists.<br />

How is Selangor leveraging digital<br />

platforms to attract visitors?<br />

We have an app, GoSelangor and<br />

we also use social media in addition<br />

to our website, selangor.travel.com,<br />

which offers lots of places to visit and<br />

suggestions about what to do<br />

BALANCING<br />

DEVELOPMENT<br />

AND<br />

SUSTAINABILITY<br />

Mr Mohamad emphasised the<br />

delicate equilibrium between<br />

sustainability and encouraging<br />

tourism investments in the<br />

region.<br />

"We want to balance nature,<br />

tourism and development," he<br />

said.<br />

"In Selangor we protect<br />

the environment and at the<br />

same time try to encourage<br />

investments in the region."<br />

Several tourist developments<br />

in Selangor strike that balance,<br />

such as the Avani Sepang<br />

Goldcoast Resort, which is set<br />

on a pristine beach, as well as<br />

developments on the preserved<br />

island of Pulau Ketam, and the<br />

Ampang Lookout Point over<br />

Kuala Lumpur<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 9


I <strong>NEWS</strong> I<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Chinese Night sets the stage<br />

for <strong>ITB</strong> China <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Chinese Night was held on 6 March at the<br />

illustrious Solar Sky-Bar & Restaurant in Berlin, with<br />

shuttles taking attendees directly from <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin.<br />

The event was co-hosted by the China National<br />

Tourism Office in Frankfurt, and powered by CTG<br />

Travel (China Tourism Group Travel Corporations<br />

Limited).<br />

The exclusive event provided<br />

a unique networking platform,<br />

bringing together some<br />

200 experts from the global<br />

tourism industry, alongside<br />

representatives from national<br />

tourism organisations and<br />

renowned international<br />

companies. It offered a prime<br />

opportunity to meet and connect<br />

with players of the Chinese travel<br />

market and global partners alike<br />

during <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

Attendees enjoyed entertaining<br />

activities, captivating Chinese<br />

cultural performances and<br />

delicious cuisine that set<br />

the stage for making fresh<br />

connections and exploring new<br />

business opportunities.<br />

China’s tourism market flourished<br />

during the New Year holiday<br />

and got off to a good start in<br />

<strong>2024</strong>. According to the National<br />

Immigration Administration,<br />

outbound and inbound tourism<br />

during the three-day period<br />

reached the same level as in<br />

2019 – a promising outlook for<br />

China's expected travel boom<br />

in <strong>2024</strong>. <strong>ITB</strong> China is coming up<br />

quickly and will be held at the<br />

Shanghai World Expo Exhibition<br />

& Convention Center from 27 to<br />

29 May <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

As the leading B2B-Exclusive<br />

trade show focused on the<br />

Chinese travel market, <strong>ITB</strong> China<br />

will bring together top and handselected<br />

buyers from Greater<br />

China with industry professionals<br />

from all over the world<br />

David Axiotis, General Manager of Messe Berlin (Shanghai),<br />

and Dr Mario Tobias, CEO Messe Berlin<br />

Lydia Li, Deputy General Manager, <strong>ITB</strong> China<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 11


I <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> CONVENTION I<br />

Albania's rural charms: Nature's abundance awaits<br />

Beyond its dazzling coastline and wealth of historical and archaeological treasures,<br />

Albania has a host of protected natural areas, making it an ideal rural tourism destination<br />

Speaking at last week's <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin Panel "Quo vadis,<br />

rural destinations?" Albania's Minister of Tourism and the<br />

Environment, Mirela Kumbaro, called attention to the fact<br />

that a third of Albania's territory is made up of mountains,<br />

rivers, and forests.<br />

Albania saw 10.1 million visitors last<br />

year and started the first two months<br />

of <strong>2024</strong> with 55% more tourists than<br />

during the same period in 2023.<br />

However, when Ms Kumbaro asked<br />

the audience at the panel discussion<br />

if they had already visited Albania,<br />

few hands went up. "This means that<br />

Albania is a destination to discover,"<br />

she confirmed.<br />

Highlighting Albania's singular<br />

appeal as a rural tourism destination,<br />

Ms Kumbaro mentioned not only the<br />

country's vast expanse of natural<br />

and preserved spaces, she also<br />

highlighted examples such as the<br />

Vjosa River, the first wild river in<br />

Europe to become a national park.<br />

With a large percentage of its<br />

territory occupied by protected areas,<br />

Albania offers huge potential for<br />

tourists seeking natural adventures<br />

such as hiking and river rafting. But<br />

as Ms Kumbaro noted, city and rural<br />

tourism are not competing with each<br />

other. "We are not dividing Albanian<br />

tourism into cities and rural areas.<br />

They have to co-exist," she said.<br />

Combining different kinds of visits<br />

and moving between cities, the<br />

seaside, and natural areas is not<br />

difficult in a country where nothing<br />

is too far away. "You don't need to<br />

travel hours and hours from one<br />

destination to another," the Minister<br />

asserted. "You can get from the peak<br />

of a snow-capped mountain to one<br />

of the most beautiful beaches in<br />

Albania in just half an hour."<br />

Illustrating how important<br />

preservation of its natural sites is<br />

for Albania and how that links to<br />

tourism, Ms Kumbaro remarked on<br />

the fact that her ministry covers both<br />

areas, the environment and tourism.<br />

"It's like an instrument for checks and<br />

balances," she affirmed, to make sure<br />

development is sustainable. Ensuring<br />

the right balance between one of the<br />

most important sectors of Albania's<br />

economy and the environment is "an<br />

absolute condition for a small country<br />

like Albania" she said, observing also<br />

that with 100% renewable energy the<br />

country is an example of sustainable<br />

practices.<br />

To develop its rural tourism offering,<br />

Albania looked to Italy, Ms Kumbaro<br />

said, "not to copy any of their models,<br />

but to gain inspiration from their best<br />

practices."<br />

Summing up the variety the country<br />

presents, Ms Kumbaro compared<br />

Albania's diverse tourist offerings,<br />

including its vast rural tourism<br />

options, to a table loaded with so<br />

many delicious dishes that it is<br />

almost difficult to decide which one<br />

to choose. "Everything you need is<br />

here in Albania," she asserted<br />

ALBANIA<br />

ALL SENSES<br />

Albania's National Tourism<br />

Agency came up with its "Albania<br />

All Senses" slogan, Ms Kumbaro<br />

explained, after carefully following<br />

comments on social media<br />

from Albania's visitors last year.<br />

"Everyone was talking about<br />

a new experience and about<br />

the senses," she said, and the<br />

destination thus chose a slogan<br />

that invites visitors to experience<br />

the country through all of their<br />

senses. Ms Kumbaro specifically<br />

identified the sense of taste,<br />

mentioning the national drink,<br />

Rakia, Albanian mountain tea,<br />

and Albania's complete lack of<br />

what she called "food for tourists":<br />

"We just have real Albanian local<br />

food"<br />

ALBANIA SIGNS AGREEMENT TO BE <strong>ITB</strong><br />

<strong>BERLIN</strong>'S OFFICIAL HOST COUNTRY IN 2025<br />

Gearing up for next year's edition, Albania signed an agreement with<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin to be the Official Host Country <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin 2025 on 6 March<br />

at the show. The agreement was signed between Minister of Tourism<br />

and the Environment of Albania, Ms Mirela Kumbara and Messe<br />

Berlin CEO Dr Mario Tobias<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 13


I <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> CONVENTION I<br />

Why the travel industry shouldn't<br />

fear change<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin News sat down with Charuta Fadnis, SVP Research at Phocuswright, to<br />

discuss her impressions of the show and the industry's reception to innovation<br />

Charuta Fadnis brought<br />

her expertise to various<br />

platforms at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

this year. From delivering<br />

insights at the Opening<br />

Press Conference<br />

to participating in a<br />

conference discussing the<br />

state of the travel industry, she<br />

also engaged in a fireside chat<br />

alongside Glenn Fogel, CEO and President of Booking<br />

Holdings. Reflecting on the event, she shared insight into<br />

several key areas impacting the industry.<br />

What was the response to your<br />

conferences at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year?<br />

The response has been very positive.<br />

It is nice to see that people want to<br />

engage in conversations around<br />

topics that are going to impact<br />

the future of the industry over<br />

the course of the next few years.<br />

Phocuswright’s projections show<br />

that the travel industry will continue<br />

on its growth path over the next few<br />

years but it will also be transforming<br />

as new technologies like Generative<br />

AI take hold. Of course, issues like<br />

sustainability and diversity which<br />

have surfaced more prominently in<br />

the last few years continue to be front<br />

and centre. The industry is taking<br />

action on these issues, but a lot more<br />

needs to be done.<br />

How is sustainability seen differently<br />

through a consumer lens? How is<br />

the industry adapting to this?<br />

Consumers are very aware of the<br />

challenges around sustainability<br />

but most associate it only with<br />

environmental factors or climate<br />

change. They, often, don’t understand<br />

that sustainable travel encompasses<br />

other aspects like cultural and<br />

economic sustainability. Second,<br />

travellers don’t necessarily see<br />

sustainability as their problem. They<br />

think that solutions and actions<br />

to tackle the issues need to come<br />

from governments or destination<br />

organisations. That accountability<br />

gap poses a big challenge.<br />

GENERATIVE AI<br />

IS DEFINITELY<br />

THE TOP<br />

TECHNOLOGY<br />

TREND THIS<br />

YEAR<br />

The industry has taken a lot of steps<br />

towards environmental stewardship,<br />

but they cannot do it on their own.<br />

Working towards a sustainable<br />

future for travel is going to require all<br />

stakeholders – from travel companies<br />

to governments, tourism organisations<br />

and travellers – to come together.<br />

As a first step, the industry has to<br />

educate travelers on all the different<br />

ways that they can contribute towards<br />

being sustainable when they travel.<br />

That means creating awareness at<br />

every step and reinforcing it at every<br />

touchpoint of the traveller journey.<br />

What are some of the main travel<br />

technology trends in your opinion?<br />

Did you see these trends reflected<br />

at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year?<br />

Generative AI is definitely the top<br />

technology trend this year. It has<br />

been the main topic of conversation<br />

on all the convention stages across<br />

many different sessions. Since it is still<br />

new, there is a lot of curiosity among<br />

the attendees and everyone is eager<br />

to learn more about what it is, the<br />

different use cases and how different<br />

segments and companies are<br />

incorporating it into their businesses.<br />

What do you hope will be the main<br />

message that attendees to your<br />

conferences will take away with<br />

them?<br />

The main message is that travel is<br />

back on its growth trajectory and<br />

while it is changing, there is no<br />

reason to fear change. Generative<br />

AI will be transformative, but we are<br />

still in the early days of discovering<br />

its capabilities. Companies must start<br />

paying attention to the technology<br />

and experimenting with potential<br />

use cases now to avoid getting left<br />

behind. But that should not be to the<br />

detriment of investing in a sustainable<br />

future<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong><br />

CONVENTION<br />

ON THE<br />

CUTTING-<br />

EDGE OF<br />

INNOVATION<br />

The <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin Convention<br />

reaffirmed its status as a<br />

forward-thinking hub for industry<br />

innovation, with a particular<br />

spotlight on the transformative<br />

potential of artificial intelligence<br />

(AI) this year.<br />

Attracting 24,000 attendees, the<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin Convention reaffirmed<br />

its status as a forward-thinking<br />

hub for industry innovation.<br />

Leaders like Glenn Fogel of<br />

Booking Holdings emphasised<br />

the role of generative AI in<br />

innovating customer service,<br />

while Charuta Fadnis of<br />

Phocuswright highlighted its<br />

impact on personalised travel<br />

experiences. Combining AI with<br />

blockchain emerged as a strategy<br />

for ensuring security and trust in<br />

the digital landscape.<br />

Amidst discussions on climate<br />

justice and skill shortages, Jeremy<br />

Sampson, CEO of the Travel<br />

Foundation, urged the industry<br />

to commit to net-zero emissions<br />

by 2030. Sampson's roadmap,<br />

"Envisioning Tourism in 2030<br />

and Beyond", proposes concrete<br />

measures to steer the sector<br />

towards sustainable practices,<br />

emphasising collaboration and<br />

regulatory frameworks for a<br />

resilient future<br />

14 <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> news.itb.com


I SPECIAL FEATURE I MEDICAL TOURISM I<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

Medical tourism<br />

gained traction at <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

The Medical & Health Pavilion in Hall 3.1 at Messe Berlin<br />

featured exhibitors from the segment as well as a full<br />

programme of presentations, interviews with experts, and<br />

panel discussions at the Educational Hub on the Medical<br />

& Health Stage, covering topics ranging from dental sleep<br />

medicine, thermal water applications, and health and<br />

sports tourism.<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin facilitates<br />

networking for the<br />

medical tourism<br />

community<br />

Maria Afsar Nazari is the Creator and Director of MariaCares<br />

Sweden AB – a platform where patients can seek medical<br />

treatment all over the world. She is a medical tourism<br />

professional with more than 14 years in the field including<br />

7 years of professional experience in patient service and 7<br />

years of building networks between hospitals and medical<br />

professionals in 30 countries all around the world. She has<br />

also participated in over 20 valuable medical tourism B2B<br />

events and conferences over the last 10 years. <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

News caught up with her to discuss her experience at <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin this year.<br />

Among this year's medical tourism<br />

exhibitors was returning Gremi Clinic,<br />

back at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin for a fifth year. The<br />

brand was launching its "tourism<br />

of happiness" positioning, offering<br />

medical visitors an entire range<br />

of services that create a complete<br />

experience. With a 98% success rate,<br />

Gremi Clinic not only boasts a medical<br />

team of 31 qualified doctors, the brand<br />

also has its own proprietary hotels<br />

as well as special departments to<br />

accompany guests.<br />

Romanian hotel group Ana Hotels<br />

was also on hand, showcasing its Ana<br />

Health Spa, a property that harnesses<br />

the region's natural resources such as<br />

Techirghiol mud from the Black Sea,<br />

What were your main objectives at<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin this year? How was your<br />

experience of the show?<br />

My main objective this year has<br />

been the networking and exchange<br />

of professional experience.<br />

How do you find the medical<br />

tourism segment is developing at<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin?<br />

I see it as a “stage”, as a platform for<br />

networking development within a<br />

professional international medical<br />

tourism community. The development<br />

of a health travel sector at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

is moving towards the right direction.<br />

What are some of the main trends in<br />

the medical tourism industry? What<br />

are your predictions for the future?<br />

In my professional opinion, the<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin health travel section is<br />

already following the up-to-date<br />

trends in medical tourism such as:<br />

to offer balneo, anti-aging, well-being,<br />

and beauty treatments and therapies.<br />

The European Spas Association<br />

(ESPA), an organisation that promotes<br />

spas and balneology in Europe and<br />

offers certification to elevate spa<br />

standards was also present again<br />

this year, promoting its upcoming<br />

congress in Lithuania.<br />

Whether visitors were looking for<br />

tourism offers for substantial savings<br />

on medical procedures, or that take<br />

advantage of the health benefits of a<br />

particular region's natural resources<br />

such as thermal waters, <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

offered a range of exhibitors and offers<br />

in the sector this year<br />

sustainability,<br />

more integration of medical tourism<br />

into wellness and spa sector, and<br />

all the possible changes coming to<br />

our industry via rapidly developing<br />

technologies (AI etc). These are the<br />

topics that will be covered more and<br />

more for future events<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 15


I EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW I<br />

© Messe Berlin GmbH<br />

Dr Mario Tobias<br />

CEO of Messe Berlin<br />

16 <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> news.itb.com


I EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW<br />

I<br />

“Deep and trusting business relationships can<br />

only develop when we meet in real life”<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin News spoke with Dr Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin,<br />

in an exclusive interview following this year's show<br />

From the <strong>ITB</strong> Opening Ceremony hosted by this year's<br />

partner country Oman to the partnership with Albania for<br />

2025, Dr Mario Tobias reflected on <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong>'s triumphs<br />

and the pivotal role of face-to-face interactions in fostering<br />

authentic connections. With sustainability and innovations<br />

taking centre stage, <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin is working towards a more<br />

inclusive and responsible travel industry for the future.<br />

This was your first <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin in the<br />

role of CEO of Messe Berlin, can you<br />

share how the experience has been<br />

for you personally?<br />

The show was a very exciting and<br />

emotional experience for me. It's an<br />

absolute honour to welcome nearly<br />

the entire world to Berlin, and I'm<br />

extremely proud of our team. As the<br />

new CEO of Messe Berlin, it was<br />

fantastic to meet so many new people<br />

– simultaneously, I could personally<br />

draw inspiration for my next vacation.<br />

Our host country, Oman, sparked a lot<br />

of interest, and the new one for 2025<br />

– Albania – is a hot candidate for one<br />

of my upcoming journeys, too.<br />

What were some of the standout<br />

moments or innovations at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

this year?<br />

Among the highlights was<br />

undoubtedly our grand opening<br />

gala, hosted by this year's Official<br />

Host Country Oman on the eve<br />

of the show. Guests experienced<br />

a spectacular show, providing<br />

insights into the diverse landscapes<br />

and culture awaiting visitors in the<br />

country. Equally touching for me<br />

was the signing ceremony where I,<br />

together with the Tourism Minister<br />

of Albania, signed the partnership<br />

agreement for 2025. Professionally, I<br />

was impressed by the line-up of topspeakers<br />

at the <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin Convention<br />

and our Innovation Radar, which<br />

we conducted for the second time<br />

this year. We presented a total of 16<br />

innovations, predominantly focusing<br />

on the opportunities presented by<br />

Artificial Intelligence. AI was indeed<br />

one of THE themes in <strong>2024</strong> – including<br />

in the convention programme.<br />

PEOPLE'S<br />

DESIRE TO<br />

TRAVEL MUST<br />

NOT COME AT<br />

THE EXPENSE<br />

OF THE<br />

EARTH<br />

Sustainability is a growing focus<br />

within the travel and tourism<br />

industry. How was this reflected at<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin?<br />

With the Sustainability Track, we<br />

even dedicated a specific track<br />

to the topic, which was exciting<br />

and inspiring for all attendees. <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin actively campaigns for social<br />

equality and ecological responsibility<br />

in tourism and once again provided<br />

a comprehensive platform and<br />

inspiration for promoting a dialogue<br />

between actors in the tourism<br />

value chain on a more diverse and<br />

inclusive industry. In addition to AI<br />

and digitalisation, climate justice was<br />

one of the main topics at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

and the <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin Convention. We<br />

all know there is only one planet.<br />

Accordingly, people's desire to travel<br />

must not come at the expense of the<br />

Earth and so many experts at the<br />

convention appealed to the industry<br />

to aim for net zero by 2030.<br />

Why are face-to-face events so<br />

important within the industry?<br />

Teams and Zoom have made business<br />

life easier in many ways – but they<br />

do not replace the human exchange<br />

face to face. In our opinion, deep and<br />

trusting business relationships can<br />

only develop when we meet in real<br />

life. This is also confirmed by the top<br />

buyers from the <strong>ITB</strong> Buyers Circle,<br />

who made significant deals this year,<br />

and the many business meetings<br />

during <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin. Achieving such<br />

results is simply not possible through<br />

video-calls alone.<br />

Looking ahead to next year, what<br />

are some of your main goals for <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin 2025?<br />

Firstly, we want to further advance<br />

our 360-degree approach throughout<br />

the entire year. Secondly, we are all<br />

very excited about the partnership<br />

with our upcoming Official Host<br />

Country Albania. This comparatively<br />

small nation has so much to offer<br />

and is still a hidden gem waiting to<br />

be discovered. The hospitality is<br />

sincere and warm – I am confident<br />

that, similar to Oman this year, their<br />

presence at the world’s leading travel<br />

trade show will motivate many people<br />

to travel there<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

A RINGING SUCCESS<br />

Dr Mario Tobias highlighted<br />

that <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin exceeded<br />

expectations this year with a<br />

slight increase in attendees<br />

at nearly 100,000, and this<br />

despite challenging strike<br />

circumstances. He stated that<br />

this triumph "clearly showcases<br />

the strength of our brand" and<br />

once again "mirrored industry<br />

developments." Beyond figures,<br />

he noted that the mood among<br />

exhibitors, visitors and speakers<br />

was "very positive throughout"<br />

and that there was a general<br />

consensus that the return to<br />

travel went beyond pent-up<br />

demand after the pandemic<br />

and was "basically stable" with<br />

neither inflation nor high energy<br />

prices curbing demand<br />

THE <strong>ITB</strong> FAMILY:<br />

YEAR-ROUND, ALL<br />

OVER THE WORLD<br />

Dr Mario Tobias called the <strong>ITB</strong><br />

brand "a global family of 4 trade<br />

shows". <strong>ITB</strong> China is up next<br />

in Shanghai in May, then in<br />

September, <strong>ITB</strong> India follows in<br />

Mumbai. <strong>ITB</strong> Asia in Singapore<br />

will conclude this year's series<br />

of <strong>ITB</strong> editions in October. He<br />

stressed that while each show<br />

is unique, and the markets are<br />

highly diverse, "nevertheless,<br />

there are themes and aspects<br />

that concern all of us: Climate<br />

justice is, of course, one of them<br />

– as well as labour shortages<br />

and Artificial Intelligence"<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 17


I SEEN @ <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>2024</strong><br />

I<br />

Georgia continued to build on last<br />

year's success at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

Last year's Official Host Country Georgia had an important<br />

delegation at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin again this year under the GNTA's<br />

CEO Maia Omiadze. The country was represented in Hall<br />

11.2 with 38 co-exhibitor companies from the private sector<br />

(hotels and travel agencies) as well as governmental entities<br />

such as the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara<br />

Autonomous Republic, Tbilissi city hall and many DMOs. .<br />

Among the destinations, the GNTA<br />

highlighted:<br />

• Tbilisi - capital city with its many<br />

cultures and traditions and historic<br />

wooden balconies and houses<br />

• Batumi - The pearl of the Black Sea<br />

with a year-round mild climate and<br />

many cultural events and festivals<br />

• Kutaisi - home to the legend of the<br />

Golden Fleece and a UNESCO World<br />

Heritage site<br />

At <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong>, Georgia<br />

emphasised its uniqueness: 4<br />

seasons with every climate zone,<br />

rich biodiversity, pristine nature, rich<br />

cuisine and one of the oldest vineyards<br />

culture in the world with renowned<br />

red and white wines. Over the three<br />

days of the show visitors to the stand<br />

had the opportunity to try Georgian<br />

wine accompanied with some typical<br />

snacks. "<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>2024</strong> was fruitful for us.<br />

We saw great awareness after being<br />

the 2023 Official Host Country for <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin. Besides European visitors, we<br />

registered high interest from India and<br />

Saudi Arabia as we have new direct<br />

flights from both countries," explained<br />

a marketing officer on the Georgia<br />

stand.<br />

Georgia promotes itself as a gateway<br />

to Europe from Asia, a cradle to many<br />

civilisations as the country was a trade<br />

hub along the famed Silk Road.<br />

Ecuador highlights<br />

adventure, gastronomy and nature<br />

at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

For Diego Andrade, Undersecretary of Promotion at the<br />

Ministry of Tourism Ecuador, <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin was the occasion to<br />

communicate that Ecuador is a safe destination and ideal<br />

for nature lovers and environmentally-friendly activities. .<br />

What was Ecuador's message at <strong>ITB</strong><br />

Berlin <strong>2024</strong>?<br />

A very important is message is that<br />

Ecuador is a safe place to travel and<br />

is naturally focused on adventure and<br />

nature. This is our main driving factor<br />

for tourism.<br />

Ecuador is well-known for<br />

ecotourism and adventure tourism.<br />

Are these still your main themes for<br />

promoting the country?<br />

Ecuador will always be about culture,<br />

nature and adventure. And in culture<br />

we encounter food and hospitality and<br />

architecture. We came to <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin<br />

this year with 25 private companies<br />

from our four main destinations.<br />

When we talk about adventure, every<br />

region has a different activity. If you are<br />

in the Amazon, it's going to be a little<br />

bit more connected to wild nature,<br />

maybe even kayaking, if you're a little<br />

bit more daring. When you go to the<br />

Andes, then you've got more hiking<br />

and scenery, beautiful volcanoes, and<br />

you can go climbing. Then if you go to<br />

the Galapagos, every day is a different<br />

adventure but snorkeling and diving<br />

are the activities that really stand out.<br />

Are there any new assets<br />

(destinations, activities, events)<br />

that you will be promoting in <strong>2024</strong>?<br />

Gastronomy is something which<br />

is becoming very important to<br />

us. Ecuador has been sitting on a<br />

gastronomy and culinary treasure,<br />

and what we are doing now is taking<br />

a advantage of that treasure to expose<br />

it worldwide. Our culture reflects on<br />

food and it varies from one region<br />

to another. You would never eat the<br />

same on the coastline of Ecuador as<br />

you would in the Amazon. It's a very<br />

short distance, but they're very very<br />

different<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> 19


I SEEN @ <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>2024</strong> I<br />

Egypt's timeless tourism offers were<br />

proudly on display at <strong>ITB</strong> Berlin <strong>2024</strong><br />

Egypt experienced a significant increase in tourism in 2023,<br />

welcoming 15 million visitors, up by 4.9 million compared<br />

to 2021. Tourism is not a new trend in Egypt, however, as<br />

tourists started visiting the country over 5,000 years ago.<br />

And still, the list of treasures keeps growing. Recently an<br />

impressive statue of Ramses II was unearthed, ancient<br />

tombs discovered, new mummies brought to light, and<br />

an incredible 2,500-year-old funerary tunnel revealed. It is<br />

no surprise then that Egypt is one of Lonely Planet's Best<br />

Destination affordable choices for <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

European tourists. The Citadel of<br />

Saladin in Cairo, built in 1173, has also<br />

been extensively revamped. Countless<br />

other architectural gems, including<br />

domes, minarets and a 12th century<br />

synagogue have been restored while<br />

the tourist infrastructure has been<br />

improved and extended. There is a<br />

new 4.7 km walkway along the Nile<br />

and exciting developments in hotels<br />

and resorts. Old Cairo is being restored<br />

and pedestrian zones established.<br />

Egypt projects to welcome 30 million<br />

visitors by 2028 with room capacities<br />

in hotel due to rise from 30,000 to<br />

60,000 within the next 5 years<br />

The Grand Egyptian Museum is set to<br />

fully open in late spring of <strong>2024</strong>, with<br />

some areas already open, including<br />

"Tutankhamun – The Immersive<br />

Exhibition", a 360° spectacle.<br />

According to the destination, it will<br />

be the largst museum dedicated to a<br />

single civilisation. Nearby, a new visitor<br />

centre is due to open in a few weeks<br />

within the forthcoming transformation<br />

at the Pyramids of Giza.<br />

Cairo also is undergoing an<br />

ambitious programme of restoration<br />

and development that will make it<br />

an attractive city break option for<br />

Oman's Sur named<br />

Capital of Arab Tourism<br />

<strong>2024</strong><br />

The Wilayat of Sur was selected at the end of last year<br />

as Arab tourism capital for <strong>2024</strong> thanks to its diversity of<br />

tourist activities.<br />

© Ministry of Heritage & Tourism Sultanate of Oman<br />

At the round table press event at<br />

Oman's stand on the first day of<br />

<strong>ITB</strong> Berlin, H.E. Azzan bin Qassim<br />

Al Busaidi, the Undersecretary<br />

of Tourism at Oman's Ministry of<br />

Heritage and Tourism, shared some of<br />

Sur's outstanding attractions.<br />

The Undersecretary presented the<br />

wealth of events that are being<br />

prepared to celebrate the selection of<br />

Sur at the Arab Ministerial Council for<br />

Tourism last December and outlined<br />

several of the unique activities the city<br />

on the Eastern coast of Oman has to<br />

offer.<br />

Active and eco-conscious tourists will<br />

find a long list of things to see and<br />

do in Sur, said Azzan bin Qassim Al<br />

Busaidi, citing examples such as Majlis<br />

al-Jinn, the largest cave in Oman and<br />

"ideal for adventure enthusiasts," as<br />

well as the Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve<br />

where no less than five turtle species<br />

lay their eggs.<br />

A seaside city, Sur has a long maritime<br />

tradition. "Sur is embraced by the<br />

sea and has a very rich seafaring<br />

history," said Al Busaidi. Activities<br />

such as traditional ship building are<br />

on offer and the Undersecretary<br />

also mentioned the city's impressive<br />

Maritime Heritage Museum.<br />

Apart from Sur, Al Busaidi also<br />

spotlighted another unique spot at the<br />

round table event, Salalah, which is<br />

touched by the special phenomenon<br />

that effects the south of Oman from<br />

June to September: Khareef, or the<br />

monsoon season. Thanks to its<br />

considerable rainfall, Salalah, the<br />

Sultanate's third largest city, becomes<br />

verdant and cool. "The entire place<br />

transforms from brown to green. And<br />

for three months, it becomes one<br />

of the leading destinations for the<br />

region," affirmed the Undersecretary<br />

20 <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> news.itb.com


22 <strong>ITB</strong> <strong>BERLIN</strong> <strong>NEWS</strong> • THURSDAY 14 TH MARCH <strong>2024</strong> news.itb.com

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