ITB Berlin – sustainability, adventure travel, UAE/EXPO and start-ups – little of our Poland in the background

What is the main focus of the industry on? How does Poland fare against this background? Why could the most interesting Polish accents be found outside the official stand?

Time for a short summary of the ITB fair. This year, for the first time fully on-line. There were some technical problems, although the scale of the challenge was certainly huge. What conclusions can be drawn from observing trade fair events?

Sustainability / zero-emission is a serious challenge and strong declarations of the leaders

It is impossible not to notice the widespread discussion about climate neutrality or zero emissions. The great Tour Operators (TUI Foundation), airlines and hotels took to work. On the purchasing side, especially in the Mice segment, there was a strong trend to emphasize customer certification under this account. It is clear that some companies(buyers) in the near future will not cooperate with suppliers who do not prove their eco-friendly approach.

Airlines such as KLM / AF and Lufthansa firmly declare significant investments in this area. Support the achievement of goals with both friendly fuel and other tools. Lufthansa boasts of its involvement in over several dozen global projects working on new ideas that are to lead to the carbon neutrality of the German carrier.

Railways will surely benefit as well, DB’s activity at the fair was very visible. Examples of tourist cooperation with regions were discussed, there was also information about the expansion of cooperation with Lufthansa. There was also a lot of activity on platforms enabling the reservation of railway content, unfortunately, there is no point in looking for PKP Intercity among the sales lines.

Adventure Travel and travel close to home

The second important trend is the great renaissance of the Adventure Travel segment. At the fair, we could listen to several presentations of an association promoting this type of tourism. Start-ups were also active, especially the MyCabin project. We have an innovative approach to offering accommodation in private areas for the needs of active tourists. All with the support of local associations / DMO and respect for nature.

The Finnish start-up  CityNomadi with smart maps also showed interesting solutions in the field of forest area maps, facilitating active expeditions.

The trend for close journeys is also confirmed by technology partners, Huawei showed its Petal search engine, which strongly focuses on tourist content. Including a special area dedicated to tourist events in the area (nearby channel).

The trend was also confirmed by google showing data from searches during the Pandemic period.

Tourist start-ups Greece as an example for Poland?

Start-ups are another hallmark of the fair. The activity of Greece attracted attention, which we do not associate with innovation(in the past). The tourist start-up accelerator Capsul T has shown, however, that the achievements of this country are considerable. You can also see (which is building up) the great involvement of women in this type of activity.

CapsuleT is a very interesting project. It should be of interest to POT in order to work harder on the innovation of the tourism industry in Poland.

Apart from the Greeks, the already mentioned MyCabin project made a sensation. Accommodation in the wild, but legally, seems to be a recipe for success in times of a pandemic. But also a great chance for local DMOs to generate additional tourist traffic, also in Poland. It is combined in an extremely interesting way with the new pro-tourist activities of the State Forests in Poland.

Forests more open for tourism in Poland – a chance for specialized local tour operators?

At the fair, there were also several start-ups that got a chance to present themselves to potential investors. Not surprisingly, the choice fell mainly on solutions from the segment of guides / maps / quests that facilitate independent sightseeing and at the same time enrich the content offered to tourists by cities / regions. The Czech Smartguide or the Finnish City Nomadi want to follow the path of success of the Romanian start-up Questo. It is a pity that we do not have a representative in this field as well.

UAE/ EXPO 2021 – the golden visa will attract talents to Gulf area

It was also impossible not to notice the activity of the Emirates. Naturally, the main topic was the Expo. Although the country from the gulf also looks at the market in the long run. The Emirate of Abu Dhabi has shown its ambitious investment plans. The Grand Canal and huge aquariums make a great impression. In the longer term, the wonderful Guggenheim museum will also be opened. If we add a new edition of the golden visa project to this – involving/attracating specialists in the field of design, crafts, gaming and even e-sports. We can expect a real boom in Abu Dhabi.

This trend will also be supported by a significant increase in air connections from Europe. Including from /to our region. Fly Dubai announced the new flights(Minsk, Romanian ports, Tirana). In a moment Wizz Air will start its expansion, only LOT is still missing ????


Poland modestly – you can find interesting Polish accents (apart from the official stand)

Against this background, Poland’s presence at the fair seemed very modest. Traditionally, our stand featured cities / regions that counted on a German customer. Mazury / Dolny Śląsk / Łódź / Bydgoszcz / Pomerania also without a surprise. The same applies to tour operators focused on incoming traffic. Traditional players such as Mazurkas, Supertour, Jan-Pol, Almatur-Opole, Furnel.

A bit of fresh air is brought by relatively new brands on the incoming market. Such as Wowland, established by Polka Travel, a well-known incentive market. Worth mentioning Wygoda Incoming from Krakow, the company mainly associated with ski trips so far.

However, it is difficult to find innovation in Poland’s offer, we only had one Hotailors start-up among the exhibitors. An innovative platform for independent business travel bookings.

It is worth emphasizing that Poland did not have any public promotional sessions. So we are pale in comparison to Georgia, Greece or smaller countries such as Nepal or Bosnia.

Polish accents (apart from the official stand)

An attentive observer had to go to great lengths to find interesting Polish accents. Such was undoubtedly the presentation about the potential of medical tourism by Ms. Anna Białk-Wolf (New approach to medical tourism). Although there are no elements of destination promotion, the topic itself is extremely interesting (it has potential also in Pandemic).

The Polish accent also appeared in the presentation of the Huawei Petal search engine – the aforementioned tourist options included in it are certainly worth of interest also by the authorities managing the tourism promotion (including local) in Poland.

The most talked about at the fair was Saxony and here we also had a few presentations in Polish, conducted by the representative of the region in Poland, Ms Barbara Klara.

Perhaps the new authorities of the Polish Tourist Organization had little influence on the Polish presence at ITB. However, you can see, based on the observed global trends, how much work awaits us.