ITB Berlin 2018: Business is booming

An economic boost from Berlin – All signs point to growth and a record year – ITB Berlin reaffirms its standing as the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show

With a five per cent increase in business volume at ITB Berlin 2018 compared to last year, and excellent business being forecast for the coming months, the international travel industry is well on course for a record year. As ITB Berlin concluded, the global travel industry presented itself in good health and in an optimistic mood, more so than for a long time. The results of the five-day exhibition on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds mirrored the good atmosphere. The show, which had been booked to near capacity for months, impressively confirmed its role as a reliable economic indicator and forward-looking trendsetter. With around 110,000 trade visitors from Germany and abroad, ITB Berlin was able to reaffirm its standing as the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. Despite the warm spring weather around 60,000 members of the general public flocked to the display halls on the weekend to find out about the wide range of information available from exhibitors. The ITB Berlin Convention, which examined current issues such as overtourism and digitalisation, also underlined its role as the global travel industry’s leading think tank.

The main reason for the industry’s positive mood is the positive economic climate in the eurozone which according to leading economic institutes is better than at any time since the turn of the millennium. Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH: “The consistent forecasts of sustained global economic growth for the next two years decisively contributed to the positive mood among exhibitors and visitors these past few days. Against the backdrop of a booming economy, record low employment and good wage settlements, more and more consumers are willing to spend money. Furthermore, because of the strong euro and correspondingly weak dollar holidaying in numerous countries outside the eurozone is becoming noticeably cheaper.“

Dr. Christian Göke continued: ”The extremely positive economic trend in the travel industry should not blind us to the fact that the industry faces great challenges around the world. The digital transformation of an entire industry continues to move forward apace and affects every company and provider, regardless. On the other hand, issues such as the need for greater security on one’s travels, the increasingly important and controversial phenomenon of overtourism, and the globally changing face of travel brought about by companies such as Airbnb are decisively influencing the social discourse on the future of tourism. This year, ITB Berlin again presented itself as a platform that without exception debated all the important trends and the current issues in accordance with the industry’s future needs.“

From 7 to 11 March 2018, over a period of five days, more than 10,000 companies and organisations from 186 countries and regions exhibited their products to visitors in 26 halls on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. Once again, there was a high percentage of buyers in a decision-making capacity: two-thirds of trade visitors said they were directly authorised to make buying decisions for travel products. Around 74 per cent of the ITB Buyers Circle attended in a decision-making capacity, with budgets that exceeded one million euros. More than one-third of the buyers present even had ten million euros and more at their disposal.

At this year’s ITB Berlin attention focused on the partner region Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It organised the opening ceremony, which for the first time left a zero-carbon footprint. Over the five days of the show the German federal state exhibited its wide range of tourism products in two halls. With its Baltic coastline and well-known Lakeland region, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is one of Germany’s most attractive federal states. Ever since 1991 the state has been an important exhibitor at ITB Berlin. In Berlin the aim of the federal state in Germany’s northeast was to attract greater international attention and at the same time to increase awareness for tourism in Germany. Harry Glawe, Economics Minister of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: ”Mecklenburg-Vorpommern overall successfully attracted the attention of visitors with its diversity and wide range of tourism attractions. The opening gala, the state’s participation as a whole and its involvement with activities and events were well received at the show. This was clear from the many conversations and reactions from visitors. The show again demonstrated how important it is to draw attention to oneself. We would like to thank everyone involved who helped make the state’s appearance an unforgettable event. We look forward to being back next year.“

The huge prospects that medical tourism has to offer the global tourism industry were highlighted at ITB Berlin. Due to high demand this segment, which was introduced only last year at the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show, was relocated to a larger hall (21b). This year again, Travel Technology was one of the segments which displayed strong growth. Exhibitors including eNett, Traso,Triptease and Paymentwall, which increased their display areas, returning exhibitors, among them Travelport, as well as the Hospitality Industry Club, a newcomer, highlighted the excellent prospects of this fast-growing segment. The large increase in Chinese exhibitors there was particularly noticeable. The online portal Ctrip displayed its products in Berlin for the first time.

Two new formats celebrated their debut in Berlin, reflecting strong growth in the Luxury Travel segment. With the new Loop Lounge @ ITB organised in collaboration with Loop, the trade show for luxury products, ITB Berlin had created a new platform for networking in an exclusive atmosphere with a select group of exhibitors, and with the first ITB Luxury Late Night the show provided an opportunity for visitors to cultivate contacts. Currently, luxury travel accounts for seven per cent of the market and annual growth is in double-digit figures. David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin: ”Luxury travel is booming and with our innovative formats we are responding to this welcome development. With this initiative we are also establishing ourselves in a role that devotes even more attention to this growth market and are showcasing this trend on the exhibition grounds.“

For the third year running ITB Berlin organised the ITB Chinese Night, where visitors were able to find out more about the Chinese travel market, exchange views and establish new contacts. The event was held in collaboration with Jin Jiang International and Ctrip for around 300 representatives of the travel industry. Potential exhibitors also received information about ITB China 2018, which from 16 to 18 May will be taking place for the second time in the major city of Shanghai.

For the ITB Berlin Convention, the global travel industry’s leading think tank, which hosted around 150 sessions featuring over 300 outstanding speakers, the event was also a success. Messe Berlin had been able to secure Zambia as the Convention & Culture Partner. Situated in the middle of southern Africa, this country is still largely untouched by tourism. However, it is gradually establishing itself as a popular travel destination. Other partners of the ITB Berlin Convention included the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in the role of co-host, International, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Ministry for Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey.

Malaysia will be the official partner country of ITB Berlin 2019. ”We want to increase tourism and establish Malaysia as a tourism destination“, said Dato´Sri Abdul Khani Daud from Tourism Malaysia at ITB Berlin.

Wolfgang Waldmüller, president of the Regional Tourism Association of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: ”In its role as the partner region of ITB Berlin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was able to focus international attention on the diversity of the state that is Germany’s most popular tourism destination. By showcasing the best of everything that Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has to offer between the Baltic and Lakeland region, particularly its nature attractions, we were able to attract the attention of international buyers, opinion-formers and potential visitors on an unprecedented scale and drew a huge response from the media. Whether it was the spectacular opening gala to which more than 3,000 guests from 110 countries had been invited, our participation in the first Berlin Travel Festival, or the ITB Grand Finale, Germany’s northeast left a lasting impression. We will continue where we left off and ensure that this tourism destination profits from the contacts we established.”

Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV): ”The desire of German citizens to travel could be felt in every hall at ITB Berlin and the foundation has been laid for 2018 to be a great success. ITB Berlin is not only a place for marketing destinations, but also an early indicator of how tourism bookings will develop for the summer travel season. In that respect the basic mood within the industry was very positive. This year, overtourism was a key topic at the show. Growth and responsibility go hand in hand and the travel industry is keenly aware of its responsibility. Once again, ITB Berlin picked up on the current trends and formulated new ones.“

Dr. Michael Frenzel, president of the Federal Association of the German Tourism industry (BTW): ”At ITB Berlin 2018 we witnessed everything: impressive figures, dominant themes and innumerable outstanding tourism products from Germany and around the world. Over the past few days reports of record figures, positive survey results and inspiring tourism products for upcoming holidays have made us optimistic that providers and visitors can look forward to 2018 being an outstanding year for tourism. ITB Berlin again proved that in our industry nations and people working together to understand each other goes without saying, and not just on the exhibition grounds. Hospitality, a cosmopolitan outlook and bringing people and cultures together – that is what we and our tourism products stand for.”

The next ITB Berlin will take place from Wednesday, 6 to Sunday, 10 March 2019.

First TUI Blue hotel opens in Tunisia

Tunisia continues its comeback, recording strong growth at the world’s leading tourism group TUI, in particular from the German-speaking markets and France. Moreover, the country is among the destinations with the highest customer satisfaction levels. TUI Blue, TUI Group’s new lifestyle hotel brand, has now opened its first hotel in Djerba and provides authentic holiday experiences in the island.

“We welcome TUI’s commitment in Djerba and the opening of the first TUI Blue hotel in Tunisia. We are delighted to see that TUI is investing in the future of tourism in Tunisia and opening up new career prospects for many young women and men. With its dreamlike beaches and diverse culture, Tunisia is a very attractive destination for all TUI customers”, said Selma Elloumi Rekik, Minister for Tourism of Tunisia.

Apart from creating an Oriental atmosphere due to its architecture, the TUI Blue Palm Beach Palace hotel offers its guests comprehensive insights into the art, culture and culinary delights of the North African island. “TUI Blue targets holidaymakers wishing to obtain an authentic experience of their holiday destination”, said Artur Gerber, Managing Director TUI Blue. “Our Blue Guides share their knowledge of the region and offer our guests insider tips tailored to their individual needs.” The hotel manager, for instance, personally takes part in a cooking class and reveals his family recipes, and an Arabic language workshop provides basic communication skills.

TUI Blue guests can discover the island on one of the authentic excursions. Jilani, Djerba’s most famous artist, exhibits impressive works of art, both his own works and those of other local artists, in his atelier only a few kilometres from the hotel. By contrast, Erriadh, a traditional village, was turned into ‘Djerbahood’ by artists from countries around the world. They created many different murals and street art, forming an interesting contrast with the leisurely pace of village life. The so-called Flamingo Island, an Eldorado for the pink water birds, is also close to the hotel.

TUI Blue Palm Beach Palace has 261 rooms. As its focus is on adults and couples, the minimum age of its guests is 16. The hallmarks of TUI Blue Palm Beach Palace are regional architecture, a modern interpretation of Oriental cuisine, cutting-edge technology, and the innovative Bluefit concept for fitness, wellness and nutrition.

KLM discontinues sale of cigarettes on board

Effective 1 July, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will no longer sell cigarettes on board its flights. The tax-free range will be extended with other goods, replacing cigarettes.

“We at KLM feel it is no longer suitable to sell cigarettes aboard our flights. KLM supports good health and sportsmanship, which simply cannot be combined with cigarettes. This move reaffirms our pledge to assume our responsibility towards broader society,” said Boet Kreiken, EVP of Customer Experience.

Dick Benschop to become new CEO of Royal Schiphol Group

As from 1 May 2018, Dick Benschop (60) will be the new President of Royal Schiphol Group. He will be leaving Royal Dutch Shell to succeed Jos Nijhuis, who is retiring as head of the airport.

From 1998 to 2002, Benschop was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the second Dutch cabinet led by Prime Minister Wim Kok. He later went to work for Royal Dutch Shell, where he fulfilled a number of positions, including as President-director Shell Nederland from 1 May 2011 until 1 January 2016. Before Benschop worked as State Secretary, he worked for 4 years at Schiphol Group in an advisory role.

Louise Gunning, Chair of the Supervisory Board of Royal Schiphol Group: ‘Given his experience in the public domain, combined with his ample experience in the business world, we are convinced that he will be able to encourage all parties involved to join forces and set the course for the next phase of Schiphol. We believe that he will be able to address the complex challenges of Dutch aviation. It is our conviction that he and his team are capable of further developing the airport smartly, safely and sustainably.’

‘Many challenges and opportunities’
Benschop: ‘Schiphol is a special place and wonderful company that I have worked for previously. I am really looking forward to the opportunity of leading one of the most dynamic organisations in the Netherlands. Aviation is synonymous with many challenges and opportunities. How can we continue to develop sustainably? How can we find a new balance between nuisance and the economic importance based on trust? Each and every one big issues, which I am looking forward to addressing on behalf of the Netherlands, passengers, airlines and local residents.’

Sustainable development
With the appointment of Benschop, Royal Schiphol Group intends to encourage a sustainable development of the airport. Together with his team, Benschop will prepare Schiphol for the future. In the short term, this preparation will involve more renovation and construction activities, as passenger numbers continue to break records. In the long term, it will involve developing a new vision for the future of Royal Schiphol Group which is in line with societal and technological developments and the global demand for mobility. Royal Schiphol Group’s mission is to optimally connect the Netherlands to the rest of the world as best as possible, in order to contribute to prosperity and welfare in the Netherlands and abroad.

Nijhuis to remain CEO until 1 May
Earlier, Jos Nijhuis announced that he would remain CEO until 31 March 2018. However, the Supervisory Board has requested that he extend this period, since Benschop will begin work per 1 May. Nijhuis has agreed to remain CEO up to and including 30 April.

He will subsequently remain in service with Royal Schiphol Group until 1 July in order to hand over duties to Benschop. After that, he will be available for the Schiphol Group’s international activities as agreed until 1 April 2019.

Gunning: ‘Under the management of Jos, Schiphol grew to become the airport with the best direct connectivity in Europe and the global runner-up for hub connectivity. Together with the airlines and KLM in particular, Jos made an important contribution to the connection of the Netherlands with the rest of the world. Schiphol also realised substantial progress in the field of sustainability under his leadership. We appreciate that he will be using his knowledge and experience in continuing his contribution to the foreign activities of Schiphol.’

As from 1 May, in addition to Benschop (Chief Executive Officer), the Schiphol Group Management Board will comprise Jabine van der Meijs (Chief Financial Officer), Birgit Otto (Chief Operations Officer) and André van den Berg (Chief Commercial Officer)