Predicting future travel industry success at ITB Berlin

International venue and destination correspondent, Charlie Carter visited ITB Berlin and found out how conversations and innovations on show there are shaping the future of the travel industry.

The giant of a global travel show that is ITB Berlin celebrated another successful year in 2024 with a slogan that resonated across the industry: #ITBTOGETHER. This theme not only highlighted the event's focus on unity and collaboration within the travel and tourism sector but also set the tone for a gathering that was both visionary and grounded in current global challenges. Over three days, 5-7 March, more than 5,500 exhibitors from 170 countries gathered in Berlin, showcasing the vibrant and resilient nature of the travel industry. 

Despite public transport strikes, this year’s ITB Berlin recorded a slight increase to nearly 100,000 attendees, exceeding organiser expectations with a globally diverse attendance. Host venue Messe Berlin CEO, Dr Mario Tobias stated “ITB Berlin once again mirrored industry developments. The mood among exhibitors, visitors and speakers was very positive throughout. They generally agreed that people’s desire to travel is not just satisfying pent-up demand after the pandemic, but that it will remain basically stable. Neither inflation nor high energy prices appear to be curbing demand.”

Dr Mario Tobias
Dr Mario Tobias, CEO Messe Berlin

The event was officially inaugurated with a remarkable display from Oman, captivating attendees with a spectacular show that underscored the rich cultural heritage and tourism potential of the Middle Eastern nation. This opening set a high bar for the event, emphasizing the importance of immersive experiences in global tourism.

Saudi Arabia stole the show, or hall, with a stand showcasing key cultural experiences and incentives for Arabian travel, including signed shirts from some of the most iconic footballers to play in the Saudi Arabian football league, including Ronaldo and Neymar. Also, with the Formula 1 Saudia Arabian Grand Prix taking place a few days after the event, the stand brought out all the (pit)stops, showcasing the cars that would be racing.

Visit Oman Opening Ceremony
Visit Oman opening ceremony

A focal point of the discussions was the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) on the travel industry. From the use of AI in enhancing travel planning and personalisation to the potential of VR in creating more inclusive travel experiences, the event highlighted how technology is reshaping the landscape of tourism. Keynote speakers, including Charuta Fadnis, SVP of Phocuswright and Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, both emphasised the importance of innovation and inclusivity in driving the industry forward, Fadnis further stated: “Generative AI can be of more assistance than real humans when customers are making their travel plans.” The talk took place on the eTravel stage which held the AI track, being a focal point for the future of travel, making it a busy stage for the course of the show.

ITB Berlin 2024 not only served as a platform for showcasing the latest trends and innovations in travel and tourism but also as a beacon of hope and direction for an industry navigating through complex global landscapes. The event's emphasis on sustainability, technology, and collaboration points to a future where travel not only recovers but thrives, driven by a collective commitment to transformation and inclusivity. As the curtains closed on this year's event, participants and attendees were left with a sense of anticipation and excitement for the opportunities that lie ahead, marking the dates for ITB Berlin 2025 on their calendars.