Several publications in China are indicating that the restart of China’s outbound tourism will happen within a couple of months and grow further in the second half of 2021. As a sign of the preparation for the re-opening can also be seen that during the annual plenary sessions of the People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (“Lianghui”), Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced the introduction of a digital health passport for global travel to ease the flow of travellers.
Wang said it would allow China and other countries to verify the result of a traveller’s Covid-19 nucleic acid test and whether that person had been vaccinated against the coronavirus and met the requirements of “fully protected personal privacy”.
He also revealed plans to set up regional vaccination sites using Chinese-made vaccines for overseas Chinese and Chinese nationals currently in countries outside of China.
On a global level, discussion during the ITB Berlin NOW virtual fair and conference will give an indication of how much optimism is back in the mindset of the industry.
Last year, a time which seems to be ages away, the question, if the ITB Berlin should be cancelled or not, was hotly debated until a few days before the planned start. Looking back from what we know today about the SARS-COV-2 virus, this would have developed into a super-spreader event, but last year the decision had to be made in the end by the medical service of the borough in which the Berlin fairground is located.
Your humble editor grew up in West-Berlin and has been a visitor of the ITB since childhood, seeing for the first time exotically costumed exhibitors and films (not: videos) about far-away places. After some years as an exhibitor, the continuously growing conference became an important meeting point and the venue for many workshops, panels and keynotes, the speakers lounge a home away from home.
This year for the first time Messe Berlin is offering a completely virtual event. The meetings will all be virtual, unfortunately, based on software that did not function properly in the run-up to the exhibition. The conference part is likewise almost completely virtual and certainly worthwhile to participate in, even though it remains to be seen how many visitors will be willing to pay a participation fee at a time when we all gained competence in “Zooming”, but grew increasingly tired of it and have many free-of-charge alternatives.
Strongly recommended is of course the participation in the session which WTCF World Tourism Cities Federation and COTRI are offering together on March 11th at 1 p.m. Berlin time. The quality of the keynote and the panel, of which your humble editor had the privilege to be the chair, is excellent. Senior decision-makers from companies like Airbnb, Trip.com as well as experts from Europe and Asia provide a lot of insights and food for thought. The reason that I can be so sure about is based on the fact that the session has already been recorded. If you follow me on LinkedIn, you can find several posts which provide significant quotes of the panelists’ contribution, which hopefully wet your appetite for the full discussion.
See you all virtually on Thursday and hopefully very soon again in real reality!
As always, all best wishes for the week from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the COTRI Weekly team!
The video version of this editorial is available on COTRI YouTube channel.