World's Leading Travel Trade Fair Opens

Category: Companies / Mar 06, 2013 3:13PM EDT
Berlin's International Tourism Fair ITB opened its gates on Wednesday (March 6), allowing more than 10.000 exhibitors from 188 countries to introduce their overview of global travel products. This year's partner country Indonesia alone is represented at 120 stalls, giving trade and business professionals as well as prospective tourists an opportunity to get an insight into the country's culture and tourism highlights. The 26 halls stretched out on 160.000 square metres on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds are booked up, according to the organisers. Central African country Rwanda is once again part of the ITB with its award winning stand, hoping to boost tourism to the once crisis ridden region. Rwanda relies on donors for about 40 percent of its budget. President Paul Kagame has won international praise for progress since the 1994 genocide in his bid to transform Rwanda into a middle-income country by 2020. But critics accuse him of being authoritarian and trampling on media and political freedoms. A number of Western partners suspended aid last year after a United Nations report said Rwanda was behind a rebellion responsible for the worst fighting in eastern Congo for years. "It takes time for people to get to know that the place is safe. But today, Rwanda is one of the safest countries in Africa," Rica Rwigamba, head of Rwanda Tourism told Reuters. According to organisers, ITB Berlin features the largest range of travel technology products anywhere in the world. For years this section has been constantly expanding. Around 150 companies from 25 countries are represented, which will be exhibiting their IT-related services and product innovations for back and front offices in the travel industry as well as hotel software solutions and hotel booking portals. Exhibitors representing social media networks and mobile and analysis services are attending in particularly large numbers, said the head of the fair, Christian Goeke. "Nowadays it is not unusual to book a weekend trip to Rio de Janeiro on your smartphone, or an apartment swap between Berlin and London. All that is possible today. Behind this are an unbelievable infrastructure and technical requirements. All these new business models have to manifest themselves in the market and for this talks have to be held. And these talks are taking place right here," Goeke said. (Video Source: REUTERS)