March 2, 2023

ITB Berlin 2023 Opening press conference

Tourism professionals and key players from the global travel industry are reunited at ITB Berlin!

The world’s biggest travel show is making a strong comeback in 2023 with some 5,500 destinations, regions and companies igniting the trade show floor.

Change is sweeping the global travel community, making it THE buzzword at this year’s show, which is finally back as an in-person-event from March 7-9. With an extremely high international representation from 161 countries, 400 leading speakers and 200 panels at the ITB Berlin Convention, it is once again the travel industry’s meeting place of the year.

Travel has never been as important as it is today

The official opening press conference was held yesterday at the Palais am Funkturm, where Dirk Hoffmann, Managing Director of Messe Berlin, was met with applause from a crowded audience. During an emotional speech, he shared hopes for a spectacular comeback “bursting with energy and driven by this year’s slogan ‘Open for Change’.”

Mr Hoffman invited the room to spare a thought for the victims of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the earthquake victims of Turkey and Syria. “Turkey is one of the most important holiday destinations and for years has been a loyal exhibitor at ITB Berlin,” he commented. “The Ukrainian Tourism Board and Kiev are also presenting their tourism products with small booths at ITB Berlin despite the current situation.”

Strong exhibitor representations include the Alps, the Caribbean, ITB’s official host country Georgia, and the show’s largest exhibitor Saudi Arabia, to name only a few. For the first time, ITB Berlin 2023 is focusing entirely on B2B customers under a new concept which enables a focused target group approach, while also offering an excellent alternative for the general public, Mr Hoffman explained.

Georgia is the official host country of this year’s show and is putting its love of hospitality on display for the world to see, centred around the concept “Infinite Hospitality.” Taking to the stage, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Levan Davitashvili said: “For Georgia to be present at ITB Berlin 2023 as official host country is once again proof that tourism is one of its main priorities. Located between Europe and Asia, Georgia has seamlessly integrated aspects of various cultures. In the years of tourism, trade, energy and connectivity, it is the crossroads of civilisation.” Mr Davitashvili described Georgia as a “dynamic country” with major investments and initiatives such as its liberal visa policy and 38 airlines connecting continents. “With all this, Georgia has succeeded in becoming one of the fastest growing tourism destinations worldwide,” he added.

The audience also heard about the travel industry’s “big bounce in gross bookings” according to research from Phocuswright. Charuta Fadnis, SVP of research and product strategy, said: “From over $1.4 trillion dollars in 2019 to less than half of that in 2020 and back to over a trillion in 2022, it has been a rollercoaster”. The research further projects that travel will be back to 2019 levels in 2024, with growth starting to moderate very quickly by 2025. Ms Fadnis predicted that Latin America, the Middle East and APAC will continue to grow robustly over the next three years, outpacing North America and Europe which will grow in double digits in 2023 but at a slower rate.

Travel is the unifying bond between nations

As the industry moves from this boom and into calmer waters, one question it faces is “what is this new world going to look like?” With this in mind, the audience was taken on a journey through some of the latest key trends on everybody’s lips, including sustainability, technology, and the world of digital nomads.

Also on the stage was Norbert Fiebig, President of the German Travel Association (DRV), who spoke about the country’s “unbroken” desire to travel. Germany made great progress in its recovery and almost hit its 2022 summer target – only 2% away from its 2019 summer record.

“The top-sellers were countries along the Mediterranean coastline, long-distance travel and cruises. Germans obviously are in love with sun and water,” he commented. “Even so, revenue for the entire year was still 15.7% below 2019 levels. This was mainly due to existing Corona restrictions in the winter season.”

In a further message of encouragement, Mr Fiebig proclaimed “the package tour is back” with €26 billion worth of package tours booked last year.

The conference drew to a close with one last message: that travel has never been as important as it is today. Mr Fiebig finished by saying: “There can be no question, ladies and gentlemen: the world benefits from travel in a great way. Our industry and the products we have on offer enrich all our lives and do a lot of good in the world. We will do our utmost to keep it that way.”