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Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill (centre) is all smiles as he addresses fellow Jamaicans at a special function held recently at the Jamaican Embassy in Germany for the Jamaican diaspora in Berlin. Listening attentively are Jamaica's Ambassador to Germany, Her Excellency Margaret Jobson (right), who hosted the function, and chairman of Jamaica Vacations Limited, Paul Pennicook (left)

Halls fully booked for ITB Berlin travel trade show

This year's ITB Berlin sent out very positive signals for the international travel industry. With the global economy expected to recover in the years to come, the world's travel industry has begun 2014 confident of good tourism business. Following a recent period of relatively sluggish growth, particularly in many recession-hit countries, the global travel industry is once again on course for rapid growth.

In Germany, consumers have ensured that the mood in the travel industry is positive. Backed by a stable employment market, good wage agreements and positive forecasts for economic growth, German citizens aim to spend more money on their holidays than in previous years.

This year's ITB Berlin reported a four per cent rise in trade visitors and an increase in business volume, which Messe Berlin estimates reached €6.5 billion. The focus of the world's leading travel trade fair, which came to an end on Sunday, was on travel bookings via smartphones and tablets and on sustainable practices in the travel industry.

Dr Christian Goke, CEO of Messe Berlin expressed, "Never before was there such an emphasis on innovation as at this year's ITB Berlin. The mood among exhibitors and visitors at this year's show was one of euphoria, which over the last five days could be felt everywhere on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds. The world's leading travel trade show had an even more positive impact on trade buyers and holidaymakers than in previous years."

High growth in Greece and Spain

Among the countries on the Mediterranean, Greece and Spain reported particularly high growth. In 2013, numbers visiting Spain reached a new record. Germany and Europe have become increasingly popular with travellers from Asia. At this year's ITB Berlin, numerous hotels and holiday resorts not only exhibited on the stands of the various countries and regions, but also hosted their own displays in the halls.

In its role as a think tank, the ITB Berlin Convention has become a firm fixture for trend scouts operating within the international travel industry. More than ever, Berlin is where innovative travel trends are shown. Luxury travel was a key topic that attracted keen visitor interest.

From March 5-9, 10,147 exhibitors from 189 countries - more than two-thirds of whom came from abroad - were represented in 26 halls which were booked to capacity. Overall, some 114,000 trade visitors (2013: 109,616) travelled to Berlin. This year, there was a slight increase again in buyers from the United States and the Middle East.

The ITB Berlin Convention registered record levels of attendance. A total of 22,000 took part in around 200 lectures, discussions and workshops, over five per cent more than in 2013. Social media and mobile travel services proved to be major visitor attractions. Once again, the matchmaking event for bloggers and exhibitors, met with an extremely positive response. Over a period of two days, 2,000 events took place attended by 120 exhibitors and bloggers from 25 countries.

Visitors thronged the halls on the Saturday of the show. More than 60,000 members of the general public came to find out about the wide-ranging information on offer from exhibitors and providers of niche market products. As in 2013, visitors on the weekend were able to book their tours directly at ITB Berlin. A poll among visitors revealed that around 50 per cent intended to book a trip. 

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