Berlin′s ITB fair opens as demand for greener tourism grows | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 05.03.2013
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Berlin's ITB fair opens as demand for greener tourism grows

Tour operators from around the world are meeting in Berlin for the annual ITB tourism fair. As customers are willing to spend more for their holidays, they are demanding greener tourism as well as tailor-made offers.

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indonesian Preident Susilo Bambang officiated the opening of Berlin's International Tourism Fair (ITB), which is hosting 10,086 tour operators from 188 countries this year, according to organizers at Deutsche Messe.

This figure marks a third year of declining exhibitor numbers after 10,644 and 11,163 tour operators in 2012 and 2011, respectively. Nevertheless, Deutsche Messe claimed that all of the fairground's 26 halls were fully booked.

Tourism that is both environmentally friendly and socially responsible is the main focus of the fair, the organizers said, with Indonesia featuring prominently as the partner country this year.

After meeting with Bambang, Merkel urged the EU to sign a free trade deal with Indonesia.

Germans remain travel champions

The fair comes at a time when Germans are prepared to spend more money on their holidays, according to a recent survey published by the market research group GfK.

During the 2013 holiday season, German tour operators can expect to see their revenues grow between 4 and 6 percent, the GfK announced, as travelers opt for more luxurious yet shorter vacations.

"Higher priced bookings beyond 1,500 euros [$1,959] have increased over the past few years," the GfK added.

The market research firm also said that Germans placed a great emphasis on high environmental standards for their holidays, while seeking out offers specifically tailored to their individual wishes.

Call for industry action

Ahead of the official opening, German Protestant charity Brot für die Welt called on tourism industry officials to show greater respect for the fundamental rights of local populations.

Around the world, some 250 million people work in hospitality, the charity's tourism expert, Antje Monshausen, said on Tuesday. But she said more than a billion people suffered from water scarcity and displacement and that there is insufficient protection of children and minorities as a result of tourism.

uhe/pfd (EPD, dpa)