Travel And Tour World – ITB Berlin started in 1966 as a small overseas import trade show and has developed into a true global success. How is ITB Berlin 2019, different from the previous editions?
Julia Sonnemann: ITB Berlin is ever-changing and has grown continuously over the past few years. This year’s edition sees quiet a good number of news. For instance, we have launched the new segment TTA – which stands for Technology, Tours & Activities. Also, we put a strong focus on Virtual and Augmented Reality this year which reflects our role as trendsetter in the industry.
Travel And Tour World: How many visitors and exhibitors are participating this year?
Julia Sonnemann: We are expecting approximately 170,000 visitors in total, among them over 110, 00 trade visitors.
Travel And Tour World: How long you have been involved with ITB?
Julia Sonnemann: It is my third ITB already.
Travel And Tour World – Tell us about the changing trends in the travel industry and traveller’s behaviour in modern times?
Julia Sonnemann: In terms of luxury tourism, we see a tremendous change from traditional symbols of wealth to a much more sustainable way to travel. Remoteness and exclusivity are the two most important keynotes nowadays. Also, there is a strong trend towards the use of social media platforms. Most of the travellers want to share their impressions with family and friends more than ever before. It means that there is high demand for the best possible connectivity around the world.
Travel And Tour World – Tell us about your partnership with Malaysia this year, how is it progressing?
Julia Sonnemann: Malaysia will certainly benefit very much from this year’s close partnership. The country organized a spectacular opening show and will also be a very important part of our Grand Finale. Last but not least, Malaysia will present its highlights at the Malaysia Pavilion in hall 26.
Travel And Tour World – How is ITB working to combat issues concerning sustainability?
Julia Sonnemann: Sustainability is one of our key values. Not only are we showing large commitment in terms of environment as a company, we also put a strong focus on the topic at ITB Berlin Convention. Global warming and sustainability are one of our main topics of various sessions, speeches and panels.
Travel And Tour World – There were discussions related to virtual reality (VR), cycle tourism in Germany and blooming eco and medical tourism in Malaysia here. Share your thoughts on this.
Julia Sonnemann: All of the mentioned topics are extremely important to us. In our Virtual Reality Lab we put a strong focus on VR and AR. Now cycling tourism is a booming segment in which a survey of the German cycle association ADFC has just revealed during ITB. And medical/eco travel is also a segment we are heavily promoting– also in collaboration with our partner country.
Travel And Tour World – What can we expect from the upcoming edition of ITB India?
Julia Sonnemann: India is a huge source market with a very large middle class. After the successful ITB editions in China and Singapore, our latest version of ITB will surely be a great success. We will connect buyers and providers in a way that was not available like this in the past.
Travel And Tour World – Overall what is your outlook for 2019 considering the increasing effect of over-tourism and fear of terror?
Julia Sonnemann: Overtourism is a huge topic for our industry. After 2018, we have again made it one of our top topics within the ITB Berlin Convention. Experts from various fields discussed the possible solutions to meet the challenges of too many tourists. The cities around the world will need to find new ways if they want to stay popular – such as promoting new neighbourhoods or low seasons. Terrorism is also an important topic. It was not one of our main issues this year, but will certainly play an important role during future editions of ITB.
Travel And Tour World – How is ITB Berlin poised to be the biggest travel trade industry event of its kind in the years ahead?
Julia Sonnemann: ITB Berlin is not only the largest show of its kind, we always identify the trends of today and tomorrow – such as future mobility. This will ensure to stay a leading market place also in the future: by always being a step ahead and present the industry what could be “the next big thing” for tourism.