The single biggest event in travel for the calendar year has commenced.
Also, that isn’t on until June, but moving right along.
No, we’re talking about the Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin (ITB), world’s largest tourism trade fair.
At the event, around 10,000 tourism companies from 186 countries and regions will be represented on an area covering 160,000-sq-m at the Messe Berlin fairgrounds from 7-11 of March.
Over 80 per cent of the exhibitors are from abroad.
There’s a lot to talk about at this event, given the incredibly fast rate the industry is moving.
But rather than recite everything that’s happened so far, we thought we’d make it a little more digestible.
So what are the biggest topics which have already been covered that agents need to know about?
Well, first and foremost, a leading issue of the event is the strive for ‘Global Peace and prosperity’.
As the CEO of Chinese travel giant Ctrip, Jane Sun opened the event with her keynote presentation where she emphasised the dangers of agents, and the travel industry in general, focusing on short-term interests.
As well as this, Sun acknowledged the importance of harnessing the collectedness in the travel industry to build stronger relationships and foster respect.
“Travel connects people with places, experiences and memories, people meet different people through travel, experience different cultures and understand different values,” she said.
“Each traveler deepens their understanding of other cultures through their experiences. At the same time they become an ambassador to share their own culture with others.”
Meanwhile, German travel association DRV president Norbert Fiebig addressed the issue of overtourism, a topic almost as inescapable in travel as tourists queues in Paris.
“Around the world, there is a growing desire for travel and globally we are on course for a record year in tourism again,” he began.
“As an industry, we must take care that mass tourism does not strain people’s goodwill,” Fiebig added.
“It is mainly up to destinations to exert a controlling influence … and many are already pointing the way.”
Another interesting speech already garnering its fair share of attention is Qatar Chief Executive, H.E. Mr. Akbar Al Baker’s address, where he spoke of aggressive expansion for the airline.
“Qatar Airways is tremendously excited to announce further expansion with a significant number of new destinations to be added to our extensive global network throughout 2018 and 2019,” he said.
“This is a direct reflection of our commitment to connecting travellers across all corners of the world in a way that is meaningful and convenient to them.”
“We are committed to continuing our ambitious growth strategy, in order to be able to provide our passengers with as much choice as possible and to take them anywhere in the world they wish to go,” he added.
Only one day into the festival and already CEOs of big travel companies are tackling some even bigger issues.
Stay tuned for more updates from the event.