The ITB, a day trip to the world’s leading tourism fair in Berlin

As I have been visiting this fair twice yet and have been really impressed by it both times, I decided to visit the ITB again (German abbreviation for “Internationale Tourismus Börse”, roughly translated: “International Tourism Fair”), which is the world’s largest and most famous tourism trade fair. It is taking place in the beginning of March of each year and is set in the halls of the trade fair ground in Germany’s capital Berlin.

The interesting thing at the ITB: there are not only the standard travel destinations represented, but almost every country has a stand with lots of representatives from national tourist organizations, airlines, hotels, tour operators and so on. There is always something new to discover and something interesting to see. Due to the international atmosphere at the fair (not only the representatives are from all over the world, so are the visitors, 48% of them are international guests) it is also possible to have some interesting chats and to do some networking.

My trip began with a calm Germanwings domestic flight from Düsseldorf to Berlin early in the morning which gave me some time to have breakfast in the city center as the fair opens doors at 10:00 am. Around that time I arrived at the fair grounds to start my journey through the huge halls with thousands of exhibitors.

Even if the first stands I was passing by were by different regions of my home country Germany, I was already stopping by here and there to get some inspiration of what to discover here. If you never visited such a fair, you will not know how much you even miss about your own home country. To experience that, go to a book store, buy a guide book for the region you are living in, read it carefully and you will definitely discover some things you didn’t know about. I already did that and can recommend doing that little experiment.

I don’t want to describe every single hall and every stand to you as there is so much to discover, reporting about all of that would go beyond the scope of this blog, but here are some interesting things:

Almost each and every country was represented at the ITB, expect for a few such as Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, DR Kongo and North Korea. That’s what makes the fair interesting for its visitors. What is there to see beside the standard holiday destinations that are advertised by every tour operator and booking platform? What activities are available at a specific destination and how can I get around there? All these questions and many more are answered at each country’s stand.

My own top five of the most informative stands/halls of a country or region this year: Florida (USA), North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), United Arab Emirates, India and Scandinavia.

Also very interesting is the diversity of destinations, so here’s my top five of the best exotic booths at this year’s ITB: Iraq, Uganda, Madagascar, Palestine and Montenegro.

Most airlines are representing together with their home country. All kinds of airlines are represented, from huge famous companies such as Lufthansa, United, Brussels Airlines, Emirates and Etihad, but also smaller airlines such as the Maldivian, Rwandair Express and Germania and even water taxi airlines connecting small islands. An interesting thing is that most bigger airlines don’t only give insight into their route network but also present their cabin layout and seats to be tested by business partners and customers. Lufthansa even presented their cabins and hangars with an Oculus Rift.

Tour Operators:
Tour operators from all over the world are joining the ITB every year. You can get information on completely packaged trips but also on individual module bookings and tour operators offering tours, safaris and excursions right at your next destinations.
Looking to check out what hotels are available all over the world? International and regional hotel chains and small private hotels are present at the fair side by side presenting their products.

Travel Technology:
The internet, smartphones and tablets are getting more and more interesting and important for the travel industry, so that it is no surprise that a lot of travel technology, internet companies and online booking platforms are representing themselves at the ITB each year. It’s business with fast changes so you might have a lot of different companies present one year after another, but some big ones are set each year.
And those are only a few things you can discover.

After hours of walking around for seven hours, having a look at everything and networking a little, I found myself walking to the exit with about 10 kg of reading material (brochures, guide books and catalogues). The whole day was a great experience, I found out a lot of stuff that will help me with my work for this blog and with planning my next trips I will report about.

Unfortunately I had a flight back home the same evening, so I was taking train and bus to the airport of Berlin Tegel TXL (which, to be honest, is the most horrible airport I’ve ever been to) and took my flight back home.

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