ITB Berlin News spoke with Deborah Rothe, Exhibition Director at ITB Berlin, on the last day of the 2023 show in an exclusive interview
Ms Rothe shared her thoughts on the event and the directions she believed the industry would be taking in the future.
ITB Berlin is back in person after three years. How does it feel?
It just feels great because ITB Berlin 2023 was a spectacular show. We didn’t know what was going to happen when we opened our doors after over three years of a pause, here in Berlin. We have had so much feedback already that people are happy to be back, that they are glad to meet everyone in person again, with face-to-face meetings here on-site. The main feeling when you’re going through the halls and when you’re speaking with people is just a very positive feeling.
What were your impressions in terms of the number of visitors this year and the show’s atmosphere overall?
The numbers are pretty good. We are happy that we had the opportunity to open our doors to 5,500 exhibitors coming from 161 countries and regions. It is the family gathering of the travel industry, it has proven again that ITB Berlin brings them all together. As for the trade visitors and visitors overall, we have had over 90,000 people here on-site on the exhibition grounds, so I think that speaks for itself. When it comes to the re-start, I think that the industry has seen once again that ITB Berlin is the spot to go, for newcomers as well as for established companies that have been visiting and attending ITB Berlin for years. They can see that this is like a melting pot, a platform to meet each other, to learn from each other, and to spread the message on stage.
The ITB Convention stages were full this year. What were some of the key topics being discussed?
There were so many topics addressed on stage, we had over 200 sessions with over 400 speakers from all over the world. Some of the major topics that represented the challenges of today and tomorrow, but also the opportunities, were of course technology and digitalisation as well as resilience and sustainability. This was one of the major topics: sustainability. Everyone is talking about it, everyone is sharing their opinions and best practices for tomorrow.
What’s next for ITB Berlin?
I hope that everyone will be here in Berlin again next year for ITB Berlin 2024, from the 5th-7th of March. We will be glad to welcome everyone back. We will now evaluate this year’s show, if any minor adjustments need to be made, however we are very happy that the new concept of the pure B2B business event has been accepted by everyone. We see that people are very happy with that decision, and they are fully committed to it, so we will be fully engaged to continue with that format.with that format and finding other formats to enhance the B2B format throughout the year. This is what we are aiming for: being the platform and also the future for the entire travel industry.
Georgia, a hidden gem in the spotlight at ITB Berlin 2023
For Deborah Rothe, the big highlight of this year’s show was Georgia, the official host country of ITB Berlin 2023. “I have worked with Georgia very closely for years. To see them now as the major partner of ITB Berlin, as the host country, was very emotional for me.” Ms Rothe emphasised the unique nature of the country and how pleased she was that they were given this opportunity to shine: “I had already seen in previous years that Georgia is a very special country, it’s a hidden gem, and it has so much to offer. And I’m very happy that Georgia got the chance this year to represent the beauty of the country on the stage, at the opening ceremony, and of course throughout the course of the three business days.”
Open-mindedness: a message for the future
When asked if she had a message for the travel industry, Ms Rothe didn’t have to think twice: “I think the most important thing we have to consider for the future is being open-minded.” She linked this idea to ITB Berlin 2023’s slogan “open for change” and stated that the industry would have to be “open to changing and transforming” as well as “travelling mindfully and considering sustainability in all of our companies, products, etc.”
Listen to this exclusive interview in the ITB News Podcast, Episode #11