The global tourism industry is struggling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. However, positive developments such as vaccine rollouts in many countries have led tourism providers around the world to be cautiously optimistic about travel in 2021. There is also a positive mood among the approximately 2,000 exhibitors from 120 countries who have currently registered for this year’s ITB Berlin NOW, the online platform of the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show. “Without doubt, the coronavirus crisis has deeply shaken the travel industry. All the same, there is a fighting spirit in the air“, said David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin. ”The booking situation in the various tourism markets shows how badly the crisis has hit. The cruise industry and tourist boards are slowly regaining hope, whereas the situation for airlines remains critical. It is all the more important therefore to emphasise the industry’s importance and for us to stick together. Particularly in these times, ITB Berlin NOW is the world’s most important platform for doing business and exchanging ideas and expert knowledge in tourism.”
Exhibitors have until 8 March 2021 to register for the event. They can already access the newly established virtual platform to familiarise themselves with its many features ahead of the show and ensure their virtual attendance produces the best results. Using their own Brand Card, exhibitors can present their latest products, supply contact details and meet up with users via audio/video chats. ”It is important for everyone at ITB Berlin NOW to get to know the new platform at an early stage, to make advance appointments and spend enough time finding out about its technical functions“, said Ruetz. Beginning on 16 February, the virtual ITB Berlin will open for an “exploration phase”. The soft opening will take place on 8 March, the eve of the event.
Saxony: the official cultural destination of ITB Berlin NOW 2021
This year, Saxony is promoting itself as an outstanding destination for culture and city tourism as well as offering a unique nature experience. With its participation in the virtual platform, the German federal state is offering a foretaste of events next year, when it will be the official host country of ITB Berlin 2022. In addition to Saxony, all other federal states are also represented at ITB Berlin NOW, either with their own Brand Card or as co-exhibitors of the German National Tourism Board (DZT).
Numerous European countries are also taking part in ITB Berlin NOW and making a strong appearance at a challenging time for the entire industry. Italy is represented on the virtual platform with its state tourist board ENIT along with hundreds of co-exhibitors. Other popular holiday destinations and regions such as Greece, the Balearics, Spain and Hungary are offering a virtual foretaste of their plans this year. Bulgaria, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Austria, Macedonia, Switzerland and Slovenia are presenting their latest products with their Brand Cards. Turkey is also exhibiting, and the population destination of Izmir is represented with its own Brand Card. ITB Berlin NOW is also welcoming Visit Brussels and Visit Flanders from the Benelux countries as virtual exhibitors to the event. The Netherlands is presenting a different region every day with live presentations and fascinating films, featuring culinary delights, museum tours and an evening visit to the pub. Users at ITB Berlin NOW can also pay a virtual visit to the tourist boards of Scandinavia and VisitBritain. Georgia, which borders Europe and Asia, is this year’s Digital Adventure and Sustainability Partner. Russia is represented by Moscow and other individual exhibitors on the platform.
A virtual tour of the world
ITB Berlin NOW has attracted keen interest from Asia. Countries taking part in the virtual edition include Armenia, China, Japan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. India is represented by four exhibitors at ITB Berlin NOW. Visitors to the virtual platform can look forward to new products from the Brand Cards of Australia and New Zealand. ITB’s virtual platform is also welcoming numerous exhibitors from Central and South America. Peru and Panama are strongly represented in their roles as sponsors, and Costa Rica has information on its latest products. Several islands in the Caribbean, including Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba have also decided to attend ITB Berlin NOW. This year, the USA is represented by the Brand Cards of individual exhibitors. Taking part with close to 40 exhibitors, Africa is making a strong appearance on the virtual platform that features business, content, networking and news. Also taking part are Botswana, Namibia, Réunion, the Seychelles and South Africa. Providers such as Mukambi Safaris from Zambia and Le Voyageur from Madagascar are presenting new products with their Brand Cards. Several countries from North Africa, the Middle East or the Arabian Peninsula have also decided to take part. They include exhibitors from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Morocco or Oman.
A platform for every tourism market
Trade visitors can delve into the world of cruises with the Brand Cards of shipping lines or the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceanwide Expeditions, Albatross Expeditions and Poseidon Expeditions. The hotel industry is also strongly represented this year with prestige hotel chains such as BWH Hotel Group Central Europe, Dorint, Hilton International and Steigenberger Hotels. Leading providers in this segment and neighbouring markets such as Airbnb Germany, Duetto, Huawei, Infor, Meituan, PayPal Deutschland, protel hotelsoftware, SAS Software, SuitePad, Travelport Deutschland and TrustYou are attending the virtual edition of ITB Berlin NOW. Tour operators such as Fitreisen and SERVICE-REISEN Heyne can be found on the platform too. From the transport sector, Deutsche Bahn, Flughafen Berlin-Brandenburg, Flughafen München and Sixt, as well as airlines including Iceland Air and Global Air are showing holidaymakers what to expect this year.
”With ITB Berlin NOW we are offering tourism providers around the world a platform where they can exchange ideas, present new products and obtain valuable insights from experts. We are delighted that we were able to convince many of our long-standing exhibitors as well as newcomers of the benefits of a virtual trade show. We are confident that after many months of stagnation in the tourism industry our virtual get-together will produce tangible results for the future“, said David Ruetz. One indicator of the industry’s resilience is the ITB Buyers Circle. As in previous years, some 1,000 leading buyers are expected to attend. A new feature for this year is that markets and destinations are being split up to make it even easier for buyers to find the right business partners.
Virtual meetings, real results
At the cafés of ITB Berlin NOW exhibitors and trade visitors can meet in private or public groups to either get together, talk, debate or simply enjoy each other’s company. Entertainment is available too for instance at the Kulturcafé, organised by Saxony, the show’s official cultural destination, where visitors can momentarily escape the packed programme by listening to saxophone music. The 13 cafés at ITB Berlin NOW are devoted to various topics, including Adventure Travel, Career, Hospitality, LGBT, Medical and Responsible Tourism, Luxury Travel, Travel Tech & Startups, Tours & Activities and Youth Travel, and provide an opportunity to meet with like-minded people and potential business partners.
The surge in digitalisation triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is noticeable in the Travel Technology segment and is also a topic at ITB Berlin NOW. Many tech companies have made good use of this difficult period to further develop their products. ITB Berlin NOW offers the ideal platform to present them to the world. The eTravelWorld for instance will be looking at everything to do with interfaces, AI and new payment methods. At Startup NOW, company founders and entrepreneurs will be answering three questions and providing an insight into their success stories. A Daily Happy Hour presented by Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V. (VIR) will take place at the Travel Tech & Startup Café every day at 5 p.m. Innovations and trends will also be discussed at the Travel Tech Café and Hospitality Café, presented by the media partner techtalk.travel.
Living social responsibility
Taking as its slogan ’Rethink, Regenerate, Restart – Tourism for a Better Normal’, this year’s ITB Berlin NOW Convention is urging both a rethink of the status quo and development of new ideas. Over the four-day event, two parallel video streams broadcasting a full programme of events and featuring the experiences of more than 25 CEOs from around the world, reports from visionary pioneers and studies by recognised experts will underline the convention’s role as the international travel industry’s largest thinktank. The airline industry will be strongly represented at the event. Leading CEOs from Emirates, Air France/KLM, Lufthansa, Ryanair and Delta will discuss their views on future developments in the market.
For many years, ITB Berlin has been supporting social responsibility and has set the tone for Corporate Social Responsibility. The World’s Leading Travel Trade Show is giving this topic a lot of attention at ITB Berlin NOW, by presenting the Celebrating Her Awards and the To DO Award by Studienkreis für Tourismus, for example. Also, in the LGBT+ Travel segment the presentation will take place of the Pioneer Award. Discussion rounds will place the spotlight on environmental protection, gender issues, racism and defending human rights.
Sponsorships and tutorials
In order to be even more visible at ITB Berlin NOW, exhibitors can take advantage of Exhibitor Presentations. Numerous partners have already signed up for a sponsorship and prominent representation on the virtual platform. Tourism Ireland is supporting the HOME OF LUXURY, which this year is being organised as a café and Brand Card. Trade visitors, the media and exhibitors are developing new concepts for the future of luxury tourism at ITB Berlin NOW.
Exhibitors and trade visitors can already organise their virtual visit and get to know all the platform’s functions. ITB Berlin NOW is offering Tutorials for exhibitors and trade visitors so that users can make the most of the various tools.
This year, ITB Berlin NOW has been able to secure FVW, Skift, Phocuswire, Phocuswright, Travel Daily and techtalk.travel as media partners. They are accompanying the show’s various formats. In ‘300 seconds with…’, ITB Berlin NOW’s Travel Hero Podcast is already interviewing leading industry figures and bringing listeners the latest topics.
This year, numerous press conferences are taking place again for the media. The Italian tourist board (ENIT) and the German National Tourism Board (DZT), the official culture destination Saxony and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will be reporting on the latest trends and developments.