ITB fair kicks off with Maldives as partner country

The ITB Berlin Convention, the world’s leading travel and trade fair, was officially inaugurated yesterday with the Maldives as the official partner country of this year’s event.

The InternationaleTourismus-Börse (ITB) fair celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai and Maldives Minister of Tourism Moosa Zameer inaugurated the exhibition at a ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday.

“We are delighted with the consistently high numbers of exhibitors, particularly from abroad, at the anniversary edition of ITB Berlin, which once again will provide outstanding opportunities for global business,” said Dr Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH.

“In the face of terrorist attacks at popular travel destinations and palpable consumer fears the industry needs a strong boost to kickstart the travel season. ITB Berlin is the industry’s leading marketplace and as the meeting place of the global travel industry can set the tone for change.”

A ‘Maldivian Night’ was held at the Wasserwerk, Hohenzollerndamm, a historic dining lounging hall in Bundesallee, Berlin last night, with industry stakeholders, trade partners and exhibiting companies in attendance.

Tourism Minister Zameer delivered the welcome note, followed by the release of a promotional video of Maldives.

The dinner was accompanied by elaborate performances providing an insight into the history, culture and way of life in the Maldives, after which a raffle draw was held among the guests and special prizes were awarded to the winners. The evening concluded with a live DJ.

The Maldives has exhibited at ITB Berlin since 1984. This year’s delegation, led by the Tourism Minister, consists of 281 representatives from 96 industry stakeholders, as well as government officials representing the country.

“From the very start of the development of tourism Germany has been among the top 5 in terms of arrivals, and number one for visitors from Europe. In 2015 we welcomed 105,132 holidaymakers, and this year we hope to receive even more German visitors. The Maldives is your destination, and we hope that the close links will continue,” Zameer said at the opening press conference.

The official press conference of ITB 2016 was held on 8th March, by ITB Berlin at Funkturm Lounge in Messe Berlin, the fair venue.

Zameer was present in the official panel along with the ITB officials and organizers to answer queries by the press about ITB and Maldives being this year’s partner country.

According to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC), major activities carried out as the host country include press conference, panel discussions, ITB Blogger Speed Dating, ITB travel raffle, ITB Kinderland,and The Grand Finale of ITB 2016, a festive closing ceremony.

“Maldives will be showcased in four areas this year; Main stand in Hall 5.2a, Adventure travel, responsible stand in Hall 4.1, Media stand in Hall 5.3 and in the South Entrance. In the floor space of 583 square meters which will stage the Maldivian stand, cultural performances, handicrafts display, spa experience by Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, sand art, calligraphy and tasting Maldivian delicacies will be featured. These special activities have been organized to get Maldives the maximum possible exposure and attraction by the visitors and trade parties participating in the world’s largest travel trade exhibition,” the MMPRC said in a press statement.

Over the last half-century ITB Berlin has had a significant impact on tourism. From March 9-13, around 10,000 exhibitors from 187 countries and territories will be exhibiting the latest products and trends of the global tourism industry on 1,069 stands.

The organisers expect around 100,000 international trade visitors and public attendance to reach tens of thousands during the weekend. Visitors will be able to obtain an overview of the industry’s wide range of products in 26 halls.

The ITB Buyers Circle gathers travel buyers from Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia. Exhibitors will be able to meet new buyers at the ITB Speed Networking event, or international bloggers at the Blogger Speed Dating event on March 10-11 respectively in the CityCube.

“At the ITB Convention we will be discussing the challenges currently facing us and providing some initial answers. Thus, under the heading of Travel 4.0, debate will not only focus on the digital transformation of business processes in travel enterprises. Experts will also be highlighting the impact the global flow of refugees will have on tourism and how they can be integrated as a workforce and with their skills into many areas of employment,” continued Dr Göke.

ITB Berlin 2016 will take place from 9 to 13 March. From Wednesday to Friday, ITB Berlin will be open to trade visitors only. Parallel with the show, the ITB Berlin Convention, the largest event of its kind, will be held from 9 to 12 March 2016.

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