ITB Asia, the leading travel trade show for the Asian market, opened its doors yesterday at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore with its partner country being Finland. The Travel fair kicked off with a high record of over 15,000 pre-matched appointments exclusively between exhibitors and buyers secured prior to the show.

Zimbabwe is one of the few African countries exhibiting at show; these include Botswana, Egypt and Kenya. The exhibition started off with educative and insightful keynote presentations on “The impact of Digital Disruption and Trends Driving Customer Experience in Travel” from Google and Booking.com which were well attended by Exhibiters, Buyers, Trade Visitors and Media.
Speaking from the Zimbabwe stand at the fair, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Chief Executive, Mr Karikoga Kaseke cited that Zimbabwe is part of the new exciting destinations targeted by Asian Buyers who are seeking new adventure owing to the unprecedented level of growth in outbound travel in most of their emerging markets.”There also a cry for more information on destination Zimbabwe to these source markets through advertising and various marketing programs as suggested by the Buyers. This is so much to the extent that some Buyers have offered to facilitate destination promotional programs at no cost on the ZTA. It is also encouraging to note that most Asian Buyers have not been deterred by the negative publicity reports that Zimbabwe been receiving over the last decade as witnessed by their keen interest in promoting destination Zimbabwe. This is due to similarities shared in historical backgrounds between Zimbabwe and these source markets, where some reports are biased at the expense of a destination therefore it is something we should take advantage of to increase tourist arrivals from Asia into Zimbabwe.

According to Katrina Leung, Executive Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the organiser of ITB Asia, there has been a significant interest in the MICE and Corporate travel products, with over 85 percent of attending buyers leveraging on the business matching platform to source for new destinations and travel products, and gain new industry knowledge. “As we are witnessing a rise in travel demand amongst Asian buyers, we are constantly working with our exhibitors and partners to create new frontiers and provide the best business platforms for them to connect with the key decision makers in the MICE, Corporate and Leisure travel industry. To ensure high quality of buyers at our show, more than 60 percent of our confirmed buyers are recommended through our exhibitors and partners. We have secured over 15,000 matched appointments and we anticipate more during the event,” she said.

ITB Asia is now in its ninth year and this edition is the biggest with strong contributions from Indonesia, Finland and Japan who have increased their exhibition space by more than 60 per cent. The biggest exhibitor is the Ministry of Tourism of The Republic of Indonesia with a record breaking booth space of 400sqm –the largest booth country representative in the history of ITB Asia in Singapore. Indonesia is an emerging market which Zimbabwe needs to penetrate hence there is a necessity to increase marketing efforts.

ITB- Asia also welcomes newcomers who include Panama and Taiwan.