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World’s largest tourism fair opens in Berlin Germany

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The 45th International Tourism Exchange (ITB) trade show opens here Wednesday with record numbers of exhibitors and emphasis on travel technology innovations.

As global tourism’s leading trade show and yearly forecaster, the ITB defines the trends for a mega industry that employs more than 100 million people.

“We are doing extremely well,” Christian Goeke, chief operating officer of Messe Berlin (Trade Fair Berlin), told reporters on Tuesday. “All the figures have reached new highs.”

In comparison to last year’s 11,127 trade exhibitors, this year there are 11,163 exhibiting companies from 188 countries. ITB director Martin Buck plans for around 170,000 visitors and 100,000 industry professionals. The 2011 official partner country is Poland.

Although the heavy impact of the financial crisis still lingers in all sectors of the tourism industry, it appears that the 2010 figures may lead tourism professionals to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), emerging economies like Asia are driving the upswing.

In January, the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer said that Asia was up 13 percent in international travel in 2010 and was the first and strongest region to revive. Tourist arrivals into Asia reached new levels at 204 million in 2010, up from 181 million in 2009.

Europe, on the other hand, is showing only a moderate recovery in 2010. UNWTO figures estimated that Europe produced a plus three percent increase. The Icelandic volcanic eruption last April along with uncertainty in euro zone countries has held Europe back from a more rapid growth.

“The recovery in international tourism is good news, especially for those developing countries that rely on the sector for much-needed revenue and jobs,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in a statement.

Large scale international cultural and sporting events, such as the Shanghai Expo and the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, also played an important role in attracting global visitors in emerging markets.

“2010 was a very good year in many areas of the tourism industry in spite of the problems and the uncertainty … 2011 will be a fantastic year if there are no unexpected events,” said Klaus Laepple, president of the Federal Association of the German Tourist Industry (BTW), on Tuesday.

Regarding the tourism market overview, Goeke said “the topic of technology and process innovations will play a leading role … Travel technologies is a segment that has grown enormously, especially internationally.”

ITB 2011, scheduled from March 9 to March 13, will showcase a new forum called “E Travel World” which combines discussions on social media and mobile services in the future of tourism.

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