Berlin: As ITB Berlin marked its 50th anniversary, the figures reveal that the world’s leading travel trade show attracted the largest number of trade visitors since it was launched in 1966. Some 10,000 exhibiting companies from 187 countries and regions met with 1,20,000 trade visitors in the 26 exhibition halls, which had been booked up months in advance. Business conducted during the trade show rose from last year’s figure of 6.7 billion euros to around seven billion this year.
Dr. Christian Göke, Chief Executive Officer of Messe Berlin, said: “Never before in its 50 years has ITB Berlin welcomed so many trade visitors to the exhibition halls. The 200 events at the ITB Convention were attended by over 26,000 visitors.’’ India Tourism Secretary Vinod Zutshi IAS and Indian Ambassador to Germany Gurjit Singh IFS jointly inaugurated the Kerala Tourism Pavilion, which featured the famed boat race and quiet backwaters of God’s Own Country. Vinod Zutshi IAS also released the brochure of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) 2016 on the occasion in the presence of KTM Society President Abraham George. KTM will be held in Kochi from September 28 to 30, 2016.
Kerala Sellers upset
Unlike the previous editions, ITB Berlin 2016 seems to have failed to cheer up sellers from Kerala. According to them, Kerala is losing its charm as a destination for leisure travel. Except general enquiries on Ayurveda, majority of the sellers found it difficult to generate business.
“It was very unfortunate. There has emerged a general belief among travellers that India is unsafe for travelling with women. The Nirbhaya incident in New Delhi has created a dent in the country’s image and its aftershocks are still affecting tourism prospects at large. The way in which such incidents are highlighted in the media are also affecting the industry,” said T C Paul, Managing Director of Joy’s Resorts and Hotels, who was one among the sellers at the Kerala Tourism pavilion.
Echoing the view, CGH Earth Executive Director George Dominic said mindless regulations coupled with negative publicity are harming the tourism prospects of Kerala a lot. “Nobody has difference of opinion regarding Kerala as a tourist’s paradise. But, leisure travellers do not want to travel to a place which is full of restrictions. It is just like people’s unwillingness to visit Saudi Arabia. Tourists prefer Goa or Sri Lanka, which offer almost everything Kerala has, but without any restrictions,” he said. ‘‘At ITB,’’ Dominic said, “I have openly asked tourists and tour operators if they have problems with the liquor policy. They said they do not need to come to Kerala for drinking as better products are available at their places. ‘We do not want to be in a place for leisure where authorities regulate the freedom of individuals. What’s the point in saying that you should stop drinking by 10 pm or drink only inside a five-star bar?’ they ask.”
Abad Hotels and Resorts Director Jibran Asif said number of visitors to the Kerala Tourism pavilion was less. “Except the 12 appointments that we had fixed prior to the event, no new business was generated at the pavilion. With 17 participants, Kerala pavilion was cramped and it hardly looked attractive compared to stalls of other destinations. However, ITB 2016 was really wonderful as an event,” he said.
Recognition for ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’
ITB Berlin, has chosen ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’, an initiative for inspiring the lives of ordinary people and making a difference, as one of the 50 inspirational projects from around the world. ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’, the brainchild of District Collector N Prasanth IAS, is the only such initiative to earn a place on ITB Berlin’s list, and only one of the three from the whole of Asia. “For Compassionate Kozhikode, the recognition from ITB marks the culmination of a remarkable first year,” said Prasanth.
Since it was launched in February last year, ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’ has been the subject of regular national and international discussions. “Our mission is to bring together several grassroots projects in the city,” said Prasanth. At the ITB Berlin, an online portal, ITB50.com, was created to showcase leading examples of excellence in tourism from around the world. ‘Compassionate Kozhikode’ is part of the series titled ‘50 Destinations, 50 Encounters, 50 Stories’.
Kerala’s ‘Responsible Tourism’ a Winner at ITB Berlin
Kerala Tourism’s new campaign on ‘responsible tourism’ initiative has bagged the prestigious Golden City Gate Award at ITB Berlin. Titled ‘New Worlds’, the multimedia campaign containing three short films directed by reputed Malayalam filmmaker Anwar Rasheed won the silver prize of this year’s Das Golden Stadttor or Golden City Gate, dubbed as the Oscar of Tourism Communication.
Wolfgang Jo Huschert, President of the Jury of Golden City Gate Awards, presented the award to Abraham George, President, Kerala Travel Mart Society. Conceived and scripted by Stark Communications, Kerala Tourism’s creative and brand management agency, the films tell heart-warming stories from one of the world’s most successfully implemented Responsible Tourism campaigns. The ‘New Worlds’ campaign was launched internationally by UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai at the World Travel Mart, London in November 2015.