ITB Berlin 50 kicks off
Over the last half-century ITB Berlin has had a decisive impact on tourism, and as its fiftieth anniversary kicks off it enjoys an excellent standing. From 9 to 13 March around 10,000 exhibitors from 187 countries and territories are exhibiting the latest products and trends of the global tourism industry on 1,069 stands. The organisers expect around 100,000 international trade visitors and public attendance to reach tens of thousands on the weekend. They will be able to obtain an overview of the industry’s wide range of products in 26 halls.
The Maldives is the official partner country of ITB Berlin 2016. With its glistening white beaches, turquoise lagoons and unrivalled diving opportunities, this island nation is a nature paradise, and one of the last on the planet. Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives has been exhibiting at ITB Berlin since 1984 and is a model of eco-friendly and carefully controlled tourism development. The country will host a spectacular reception at the opening ceremony on the eve of the show. During the event around 260 exhibitors will be presenting the many products and services of this year-round sunshine destination on an enlarged stand in Hall 5.2 which now occupies 200 square metres.
Near the south entrance visitors to ITB Berlin will be able to gain a glimpse of the future of travel. Dressed as an elegant trade fair hostess, Toshiba's humanoid robot will be providing information at the ITB Berlin help desk. This is ChihiraKanae's first appearance in Europe. Since April 2015 her "sister" has been welcoming visitors daily in Tokyo. The question as to whether customers approve of robots was analysed by an exclusive, representative and global study by Travelzoo that will be presented on Friday, 11 March 2016 at the Marketing and Distribution Day of the ITB Berlin Convention. Society is likely to accept this new technology. The majority (77 per cent) of those polled in nine countries were convinced that robots will play an important role in the near future. 73 per cent said it would improve their lives, and the majority said they would approve of robots if they did the job well, at help desks in tourism information centres, hotel check-ins, airports, or serving customers in restaurants. At an onstage live demonstration of Toshiba's ChihiraKanae, trade visitors will be able to make up their own minds about humanoid robots in the travel industry. Afterwards, one of Toshiba's experts managing the project will have more information about the technology giant's future plans.
The challenges and prospects arising from the digital transition will be discussed on all days of the convention. The programme of events features even more leading names and important topics. Demand by exhibitors remains unabated at the fiftieth edition of ITB Berlin. That is how the German show reaches half a century promoting the travel industry.