Tourism industry optimistic as trade fair opens in Berlin

6th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

More than 11,000 participants from 180 countries and regions are taking part in the ITB.

Berlin -- The world's biggest tourism trade fair opened in Berlin on Wednesday amid continued optimism that international travel will continue to grow despite global economic uncertainties.

More than 11,000 participants from 180 countries and regions are taking part in the ITB travel exhibition that runs until March 9.

Deals worth billions of dollars are expected to be signed during the fair, which promotes package tours as well as private and business travel.

The World Tourism Organization UNWTO said it did not expect the industry to suffer as a result of turbulence on international financial markets or the discussion about climate change.

It might not be possible to repeat the good growth rates of previous years, but there would be no collapse, UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said.

"It is possible that activities (in the tourism sector) will not recede at all in 2008," Frangialli said in his opening address.

Frangialli said there were 900 million international arrivals in 2007 and the figure was expected to grow to 1,100 million in 2010 and to 1,600 million in 2020.

At a time of falling economic growth rates, indications were that expenditure on travel and tourism would not necessary decline at the same level, he said.

Spending by Germans, whose personal holiday budgets are rated the highest in the world, is set to grow this year, according to tourism officials.

Germans' favorite package-holiday destination is their own country, followed by Spain, according to statistics released by the DRV German travel trade federation.

Bookings at present are strong for eastern Mediterranean destinations and Asian destinations led by Thailand, the DRV said.

DRV said package-holiday companies expected annual sales growth of 2 to 3 percent this year. Sales by the sector last year were up 3 percent to 20.3 billion euros (30.5 billion dollars).

Individual travel through travel agents was set to grow this year by 2.5 percent, the biggest jump since 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington put a damper on travel worldwide.

More than 100,000 trade visitors are expected at the ITB, which this year highlights the Dominican Republic as its "partner nation."

The exhibition opens its doors to the general public at the weekend, but a public transport strike that began Wednesday could hit attendance.

DPA with Expatica

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