Ten Key Takeaways from ITB Berlin 2019.
We’re not going to lie, ITB Berlin was exhausting. But it was also incredibly insightful and exciting. Additionally to representing our client CAS Trips at ITB’s Berlin Travel Festival, we took the time to meet with industry experts from across the globe. We also attended several panel discussions and interesting talks about the importance of sustainable travel, learning even more about crucial topics such as climate change.
Here are our ten key takeaways from this years’ ITB Berlin and Berlin Travel Festival:
Three years ago sustainable tourism made up a rather small portion of the ITB Berlin program. This year, we had a fully dedicated CSR day focusing on the subject. The importance of sustainable tourism continues to rise - especially amongst European travelers.
Prof. Dr.h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber’s keynote speech on climate change was the most powerful presentation we have seen in a while. The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research urged the tourism sector to think about the fact that “We are sawing off the branch on which we are sitting”. If tourism continues as it is, we will no longer be flying to beach destinations around the globe, simply because they will no longer exist with water levels rising as a result of climate change.
“Who is responsible for implementing sustainable tourism?” Individual travelers, companies working in the industry, or governments? This was a re-occurring question throughout ITB Berlin. The answers varied and were much debated, yet as a conclusion we would say that the responsibility primarily lies with governments, and individual travelers need to push governments around the world to act. Laws about carbon offsetting, and higher carbon-emissions taxes might be a good place to start.
On that note, Joyatri Ray stated, “If we as travelers are not demanding ethical practices, companies will not provide them.” So, maybe individual travelers have more responsibility towards sustainable tourism than they are aware of, or would like to have.
Rachel McCaffery from Travel Without Plastic asked, “Why are we training people to expect that plastic cups need to be plastic-wrapped to drink out of?” The answer is a little more complex than “safety reasons”, but for years, the hotel industry has implemented single use plastic as a means to protect guests from bacteria in local water or cutting their feet open from a glass cup when sitting by the pool.
There are so many different areas and issues that need to be tackled in regards to sustainable tourism and climate change as a whole. One of those issues is single-use plastic. This topic has received a lot of media attention, and countries around the world are implementing laws for the better. And whilst this topic is definitely important, especially in regards to our aquatic wildlife, focusing on transport and carbon emissions from flying, for example, would have a greater positive impact in fighting global warming. The problem? You can’t see CO2 directly, whereas plastic is very much visible and tangible, so it may be easier for travelers to grasp.
Anyone that has attended a massive music festival will know, it makes sense to map out your exact itinerary for the day to avoid running back and forth between stages. ITB Berlin is no different. Take a look at the speakers, highlight which talks are most relevant for your company or your client, and try to stay around the same area when it comes to back to back events. Wearing sneakers is also essential - just incase you do decide to run from one end of the venue to the other.
Berlin Travel Festival is more relaxed than ITB Berlin - and probably somewhere you’d want to visit as an independent travel consumer. The “festival” features lots of travel start-ups and inspiring talks from a younger crowd.
You may already know this, but cigarette butts - not plastic - are the biggest polluter of beaches and public spaces. And no, they are not biodegradable.
ITB Berlin and Berlin Travel Festival are definitely two of the key events to attend in the travel and tourism industry. We’ll be back in 2020!
We’d love to hear about your key insights from the world’s leading travel trade show, so feel free to leave comments below!