BREXIT? In the 28 halls of ITB 2016 in Berlin in March it got barely a mention – indeed, I never heard it at all. Concerns focused around international security and the impact of refugees.
At his annual presentation of the IPK International Travel Monitor, Rolf Freitag made the prediction that the “terror fear” will result in a 2% reduction in the growth of international tourism in 2016 as against an increase of 4.5% that would otherwise have been expected. His forecast for international outbound travel in 2016 is 0% growth in the Americas, 2% for Europe, 4% for Asia (driven by India and China) and 3% for the rest of the world.
Should you wish to view his presentation, the video is among 60 conference sessions from this year to be found on the ITB You Tube channel.
Another conference session was entitled “The refugees are coming – what does this mean for the tourism industry?” Such a question is hardly surprising in Berlin. The International Conference Centre (ICC), across the road from the exhibition halls, was – until 2014 – where ITB press conferences were held. Now that these have, for the most part, moved to the appropriately named “City Cube”, the ICC was – in March – occupied by some 600 refugees. Not that there was any visible sign of them on the street.
At this year’s Press Conferences I was struck by the appearance of a country’s competitiveness as a target. As you well know, ambitions are most commonly measured by a planned increase in visitor arrivals. At Indonesia’s press conference they had this too, from 9 million in 2014 to 20 million in 2019, growing tourism’s contribution to GDP from 9% to 15% along the way. What was added was an improvement in Indonesia’s ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, with a target of 30 in 2019 as against a rank of 70 in 2014. An interesting trend to watch.
And despite the challenges, optimism and resilience were the watchwords of the 50th edition of this extraordinarily large travel trade show.