Appointments lost, Confidence won

ITB Berlin NOW struggles with digitalisation, but provides signs of new confidence

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

Optimism is back in the tourism industry. Some colleagues, several COTRI staff members and I myself had the opportunity to talk to during the ITB Berlin NOW last week, seemed to be still sitting in a deep hole, reminding the dialogue partner to the frog in the well seeing only a small piece of the sky. However, most professionals are believing again that there is a tomorrow also for the tourism industry and for international tourism. At the same time, many realise that the competition is not getting smaller and that the demands of the customers will rather increase as well. Meaningful tourism, your humble editor would say, is the answer. You heard this term here first and you will hear more about it in the future.

Severe technical problems marred the ITB Berlin NOW with the crucial networking software mis-functioning again and again and the server becoming overwhelmed several times. As a German living in Hamburg, where the construction of the Elbphilharmonie was delayed by six years and overrun the budget by eleven times, and as a born Berliner who had to endure to have the mickey taken out of me for years over the never-ending saga of the construction of the new Berlin airport, I could have done without the current snafu in the handling of the CoViD-19 vaccination by the German government and the Messe Berlin difficulties to boot.

One wonders what happened to the German ingenuity and ability to plan ahead. Maybe politicians are not as good as business people and engineers in that field, but as a former public servant to two German provincial governments in my role as a university professor, it is not for your humble editor to criticise fellow public servants.

WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation for sure did a great job in preparing our joint WTCF and COTRI session during the ITB Berlin NOW convention and we received a lot of positive feedback, including the message “Thank you very much, Professor. It is a privilege to have access to such great content.”

For all who missed the session: An extended version (60 minutes instead of the broadcasted 40 minutes) can be seen on the COTRI YouTube channel.

Hopefully as a result of the ITB Berlin NOW we will be able to help many destinations with the ADVANTAGE: TOURISM programme to offer better services to Chinese visitors in the post-corona era.

Some more good news:

ADVANTAGE: TOURISM got its fourth Technology Partner: gts altitude, a company that uses industry big data sets, especially from aviation, to help with brand differentiation in a crowded market.

Furthermore, the close cooperation between COTRI and WTFI World Tourism Forum Institute has become even closer. Your humble editor, who is already a member of the International Council, has been appointed as the Founding Dean of the HATT Business School run by WTFI, working in the future under the guidance of the distinguished expert and CEO Sumaira Isaacs and the Secretary-General Dr. Taleb Rifai. Taleb, who during his two terms as Secretary-General of UNWTO transformed it into a relevant institution for the usage of tourism as a global development tool, is one of the persons your humble editor considers as his teacher not only in terms of tourism but also as a good human being. I am sure the HATT Business School will make good use of his ideas to train tourism experts for the betterment of global tourism.

All in all, the ITB Berlin NOW provided a good opportunity to talk to many colleagues, even with the IT problems mentioned before. Certainly, everybody hopes that the ITB Berlin 2022 will be a full success based on the meeting of colleagues in the flesh again. With increasing age, your humble editor had become less and less active in joining the party circuit at ITB in pre-pandemic years, but for 2022 I encourage all readers to put me already on your list of invitees for your ITB evening events. I am sure to turn up for a drink and a laugh and a hug (kisses, I am afraid, exclusively reserved for members of the opposite sex – Sorry, old school) and a good conversation.

On a more serious note, the number of global daily CoViD-19 deaths (7-day average) is down from 14,500 to 8,500 and since last week more than one out of 1,000 global citizens is vaccinated every day. Several new pharmaceuticals to avoid severe illness and death caused by the virus have shown their effectiveness and health passport systems are starting to be implemented. The optimism expressed by most members of the industry in the past week, fortunately, has a base in the facts.

Best wishes as always from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!

This editorial is also available as a video at COTRI YouTube Channel.

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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