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ITB Berlin – Travel market set for growth again

The participants of the opening press conference.

From left to right: Dr. Mario Tobias (Messe Berlin), Charuta Fadnis (Phocuswright), H.E. Azzan bin Al Busaidi (Oman), Norbert Fiebig (DRV), Katie Gallus (Moderation)

In 2023, the travel market not only recovered from its slump during the crisis of the Covid pandemic, it even surpassed 2019 levels. “Now we can really say the pandemic is over“, said Charuta Fadnis, vice president of the tourism market research company Phocuswright, on Monday at the opening of ITB Berlin, the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show. Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Association (DRV), called for policymakers to financially support the industry’s eco-friendly transformation.

Fadnis cautioned that growth rates would level out. “Pent-up demand has been satisfied.“ What was more, a large part of the turnover was due to price rises rather than an increase in travellers. In total, 2024 and 2025 exceeded two trillion dollars. Regions were recovering at different speeds. In 2019 North America, Europe/the Middle East and Asia were more or less equal, each accounting for one-third of bookings. In 2022 North America surged ahead with 40 per cent, while Asia trailed significantly, even lagging behind Europe. Fadnis expected the percentages in 2025 to mirror those prior to the pandemic.

There remained many challenges, said Fadnis. Inflation was weaker, but global flashpoints bore new risks. To that could be added the biggest challenge: climate change. It was the industry’s responsibility to take action here. Individual travellers did not see it as their task to actively participate in every sustainability initiative.

Fiebig also described climate action and sustainability as tomorrow’s most important tasks. The biggest challenge for the tourism industry was the fact that mobility without adequate means, i.e. air travel, was unthinkable. He called upon the federal government to rethink its recent decision to stop funding research on sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs).

Regarding turnover trends, the president of the DRV focused on the German travel market. Here too, bookings for 2024 had already surpassed 2019 levels. The figures for the winter holiday season, which had just ended, were 11 per cent higher than for the same period in 2019. He anticipated 13 per cent growth for this summer. Sun & beach vacations continued to top the list of German holidaymakers. Turkey had overtaken Spain as the number one destination, and Greece had also become more popular. Egypt was in fourth place.

Fiebig concluded by appealing to holidaymakers and stakeholders at ITB Berlin: “Let us travel in order to make the world a better place.“