FACE-TO-FACE: Nino Gruettke, Executive Director, ITB Asia

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Nino Gruettke
Nino Gruettke

Travel Daily goes Face-to-Face with Nino Gruettke, Executive Director of  ITB Asia 

Q)           Asia’s travel market is growing at a phenomenal rate. How has this been reflected at your show? 

It is the fifth anniversary of ITB Asia this year and most international visitor figures are going up. People are starting to sign up earlier which show signs of maturity and confidence in the show. There are companies that are continuing to come back such as South Africa Tourism and Hilton, so there are signs that it is growing.

ITB Asia is a purely B2B show and it was originally for Asia’s market so we cover that first. However more Asian exhibitions are bringing suppliers to Singapore, so people from Brazil etc come in to meet Asia buyers as well and it has become more of an international trade show. 

Q)           How is ITB Asia gearing up this year? 

Sale numbers after last year were incredible and look even better for this year. New national tourist offices are coming on board and we are finding that people are coming back. Within Asia, Indonesia and Lufthansa have grown the strongest which is quite surprising. There is a more mature market in Indonesia with its wealth and high net worth people, similar to Singapore.

The signs are looking good, the show is not as big as ITB Berlin and won’t be. The most important part is to build a community, even family, so the industry family needs the show [to meet up]. This means people get to know Singapore and get to the good food or bar and it feels like ‘coming home’ for delegates, so we are slowly seeing this in Asia. 

Q)           Have you noticed an uptake in certain supplier markets signing up for this year’s show? 

Asia is growing while Europe crumbles. There is strong growth in South America and Africa and this is probably bigger than Europe altogether, which is currently not as present as other markets. Within Asia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan have been big.

From the global perspective if second tier countries are more present at Asia shows, what does that mean for the future? If Asia’s first touch is with South America or Africa, then what about their contact [and eventual travel] to Europe or the USA? 

Q)           Why did ITB decide to change venues? 

Our biggest change is to shift venues from Suntec to Marina Bay Sands. Suntec is currently undergoing changes and we did not want our show to be at a construction site, but we will return to Suntec when works are completed. Our events are about convenience and Suntec cannot offer that during the construction period. 

Q)           How is the conference side of the show building? 

Association with the show is strong with the travel agent conference, workshops and corporate side. More want to contribute towards this side and do something at the show. For example on the software and content side, it’s about ‘who do I need to know’ and ‘what did I learn at this show’, which some shows underestimate. You get the knowledge as a buyer through a conference and not just sales. We try to establish that at ITB Asia too.

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