World biggest travel show opens as economic clouds darken

March 11th, 2009 - 7:49 am ICT by IANS  

Berlin, March 11 (DPA) The world’s biggest travel fair (ITB) opens its door this week against the backdrop of a deepening global recession with officials reporting Tuesday a fall in the number of exhibitors attending the five-day event.
The world travel industry is gathering in Berlin amid signs of falling demand as both consumers and business cut back their travel plans in the face of the biggest downturn in the global economy since the Great Depression.

As a result, the number of exhibitors setting up shop at the ITB has slipped from 11,147 in 2008 to 11,098 this year from 187 nations. Last year 177,900 visitors passed through the ITB’s turnstiles.

But despite the bleak economic times, Germans appears set to retain their title as the world’s travel champions.

After a grim start to the year, the German Travel Association (DRV) said travel agencies across the country had noticed a pickup in business over the last month as Germans gear up for their summer vacation.

“Germany has packed its bags”, said DRV president Klaus Laepple with falling energy costs, dwindling inflation and higher incomes helping to boost an interest in travel.

Spain once again appears likely to top the list of summer destinations for Germans, Laepple said. A study released last week by the German motorists’ association ADAC, said 64.5 percent of Germans planned at least one vacation this year despite the economic crisis.

This represented a fall of only about three percent, compared to 2008.

However, 6.7 percent less than last year said they wanted to take two or three holidays this year.

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