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651 Exhibiting Companies from 58 Countries and Territories plus 812 Hosted Buyers at Inaugural ITB Asia

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After three years of meticulous planning and research, Messe Berlin launched the inaugural ITB Asia at Suntec Singapore on Wednesday, “comfortably exceeding our initial 500-exhibitor target,” said Messe Berlin CEO Mr Raimund Hosch.

At the show are 651 exhibiting companies and organisations from 58 countries and territories worldwide – a far cry from the 12 exhibitors who took part in the first ITB Berlin 42 years ago – with ITB Asia exhibitor space selling out in just nine months. There are 812 hosted buyers, a very impressive figure for an inaugural show. In addition, there are more than 1,000 trade visitors, many of whom are testing the waters with a view to exhibiting in 2009, when the number of exhibiting companies could well pass the 1,000 mark.

One such trade visitor ASIA Travel spoke to, but who requested anonymity, is attending the ITB Asia this year so that her company can make an educated decision whether to invest in the show in 2009, and exhibit. After just the first day, she said that her company, which operates 10 hotels in Asia with many more under development, has been so impressed with the numbers / quality of buyers and the setup, that she thinks it very likely that they will be exhibitors next year. She said that instead of asking for a larger budget, they will most likely cancel their participation at the PATA Travel Mart 2009, and even said that she would like the ITB Asia to eventually replace the costly journey to London for the World Travel Market (WTM) in November each year.

ITB Berlin, ITB Asia’s big brother and the largest trade show in the world, which is held annually in March, attracted around 11,000 exhibitors in 2008 from 186 countries and territories. Exhibitors at ITB Berlin this year utilised 160,000 square metres of floor space.

The inaugural ITB Asia has attracted a wide variety of exhibitors including 280 accommodation entities (43% of all exhibitors), 178 tour operator/travel agencies (27%), 81 government tourism organisations or associations (12%), 29 travel technology companies (4%), 26 transport/carrier companies (4%), 22 business travel/MICE service suppliers (3%), 12 consultancies (2%), 10 media exhibitors (2%), and 13 others (2%).

Of all exhibitors, 77% are from Asia Pacific, 8.2% from Europe, 5.2% from Africa, 4.5% from the Middle East, 3.7% from South America and 1.4% from North America.

Messe Berlin’s intention, in launching ITB Asia, was to take its trade show expertise, contacts and technical skills and diversify its well-known brand into a completely new space.

Why Asia? “Because it has a track record of offering impressive economic growth rates,” said Mr Hosch, “and it also offers a massive population, youthful demographics and amazing cultural diversity.”

Will it work? “All we know at this stage is that buyers and exhibitors have turned out in mass to attend ITB Asia. We have had virtually no cancellations attributed to the new economic crisis.

“This tells us that in good times, or bad, the travel and tourism industry is committed and resilient. In fact, Messe Berlin believes that the global economic crisis has added impetus and importance to the first ITB Asia.

“We believe ITB Asia delegates correctly saw this week as their chance to come together from all corners of the industry to discuss proactive policies and plans for the recovery to come,” Mr Hosch added.

The strategic partnership between Messe Berlin and the Singapore Tourism Board covers a minimum of three years, but Messe Berlin fully expects it to continue in Singapore in the long term, attracting strong growth in exhibitors and buyers/trade visitors year on year.

Whether or not ITB Asia will also be opened up to the public is yet to be decided. “This will depend on what our exhibitors want,” Mr Hosch said at the opening press conference, who also indicated that Messe Berlin was considering an ITB in America.

See other recent news regarding: Airlines, Aviation, Flights, HotelsPromotions, New Hotels, ITB, ITB Asia, Singapore, Travel Trade Shows

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