The 50th anniversary of the International Tourism Bourse (ITB) Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade fair, took place on 9-13 March on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds ICC.
Many of the stands were very busy. Remarkably, the mood at the fair this year was buoyant in spite of the many different challenges facing the sector. African destinations, such as Egypt and Tunisia, hit by terror attacks stressed their security measures to regain consumer confidence. Others pressed ahead with new products and services.
According to the organiser, more than 10,000 companies and organisations from 187 countries exhibited their products and services to 175,000 visitors, who included 120,000 trade visitors. The figures were the highest recorded since the trade fair took place for the first time in 1966, when the event hosted only nine exhibitors from five countries and was attended by only 250 trade visitors.
Botswana will be the official partner country of ITB Berlin in 2017. An agreement between the world’s leading travel trade show and Botswana was signed by Tourism Minister Tshekedi Khama II and Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH.
According to Mr Khama, “The Botswana Tourism Organisation has taken the opportunity to become the partner country of ITB Berlin 2017 in order to share Botswana’s nature conservation achievements with the rest of the world and to raise general awareness of the country.”
Botswana’s role as the partner country of ITB Berlin would ensure the long-term attention of the global tourism industry, Khama said. “It will not only place the spotlight on Botswana’s tourism successes but will also focus attention worldwide on our potential for economic development. In the past Botswana has achieved great success that has remained largely unnoticed around the world.”
David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, described Botswana as “Africa’s best-kept secret”.
Botswana, which celebrates 50 years of independence this year, has been exhibiting at ITB Berlin every year since 1984. Next to the diamond industry, the most important branch of the economy, the tourism sector currently accounts for five per cent of GDP.