The ITB Asia travel trade show opened in Singapore today, with organisers claiming the three-day event will be the biggest in its five-year history.
Speaking at the opening press conference at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Dr Martin Buck, Vice President of the event’s organiser Messe Berlin (Singapore), called 2012 a “benchmark year” for ITB Asia, with double digit growth in “all important show parameters”.
Included in this growth are a 15% rise in exhibitor numbers, to 865, a 17% expansion of floor space sold, to 17,000m², and a 24% jump in conference content. Much of the growth of exhibitors and floor space is being driven by the emerging markets of Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East, with national tourism offices of countries such as Colombia and Jordan exhibiting for the first time, and Indonesia expanding its display space by 45% compared to last year.
“Times they are a-changing, as Bob Dylan once sang,” said Dr Buck. “Asia Pacific is definitely one of the growth engines driving global tourism and at this year’s show we’re seeing exhibitors from as far as South America and South Africa which confirms the optimism they share for this region.”
These sentiments were echoed by the Singapore Tourism Board’s Assistant CEO, Neeta Lachmandas.
“With Asia fuelling the growth in global tourism, there is no better time to focus our efforts on this region,” she said. “We believe that ITB Asia, along with the complementary events under TravelRave (the group of travel events occurring in Singapore this week), will provide the much needed Asian-centred insights that will help businesses reach the fast-growing source markets within Asia.”
Underlining the demand for ITB Asia, Dr Buck revealed that despite early concerns over the show’s ability to fill extra floor space made available at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre – as opposed to Suntec Singapore where the event has been held for the past four years – the event was fully booked five months ago.
In fact to cater for the increased demand, the layout has been changed this year to make the show feel more like a traditional trading place, according to Dr Buck. “We are using space more efficiently; this year it looks like a souk – a marketplace where transactions can be made,” he said.
ITB Asia runs until Friday 19 October. Travel Daily is exhibiting at booth number R1290.