ITB Berlin Now has welcomed more than 3,500 digital exhibitors from 120 countries and is helping the industry to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown.
Easter holidays this year were still possible, both at home and abroad, but what was needed was an intelligent testing strategy for the coronavirus.
That was the opinion voiced by Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV) at the virtual opening press conference of ITB Berlin Now.
“In the Balearics infections are 32 per 100,000, while in Germany they are over 60.
“What risk is there in travelling to Majorca? Who wants to be protected from whom? There are enough safe destinations,” said Fiebig. Safety was easier to organise on a package tour than on Berlin public transport, he added.
According to Claudia Cramer, director of market research at the market research institute Statista, about 70 per cent of the population in Germany, the US and China were planning a trip in 2021.
Meeting and congregating with friends and family was an important driver.
Outdoor activities and nature experiences were the trend in 2021, she said.
According to Caroline Bremner, head of travel research at Euromonitor International, it would take two to five years for the tourism industry to fully recover from the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Turnover in 2021 could still be expected to be 20 to 40 per cent lower than 2019.
A recovery could possibly follow in 2022, at best.
However, if vaccination programmes were to stall, it could take a total of five years for the industry to recover.
A new feature this year is the Sustainable Travel Index, which for the first time has been used by Euromonitor International to rank destinations’ sustainability efforts.
Sweden was able to secure first place.
According to Martin Ecknig, chief executive of Messe Berlin, more than 3,500 exhibitors from 120 countries as well as 800 media representatives and travel bloggers are taking part in ITB Berlin Now, which is entirely virtual and will run until Friday of this week.
“I am more than delighted that we have been able to offer the travel community a global meeting place.
“Whereas ITB Berlin Now is devoted exclusively to trade visitors this year, travel-hungry consumers can gain inspiration for their upcoming vacation at the Berlin Travel Festival.
“The partner event is taking place parallel with ITB and is also in an entirely virtual format.”
“In the long term,” Ecknig said, “a virtual trade show could not fully replace an in-person event.
“For that reason, in 2022 we want to combine the key elements of an in-person and virtual trade show.”