ITB Berlin – Travelling Round The World in 4 Hours

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I’m trying something a bit different here – this is more of a blog in the true ‘this is what I’ve been up to’ sense rather than my usual more journalistic/analytical articles. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Last weekend I had the exciting opportunity to visit ITB Berlin, one of the world’s largest travel shows. Having not been to an international travel expo before, I was blown away by the sheer scale – the vast majority of developed nations (and some developing nations too!) had areas there, with hotels, places of interest and also local food/drink producers from a fair few countries had samples to try, varying from various forms of Turkish Delight to Caribbean rum, Chilean wine, and (my favourite!) Welsh single-malt whisky.

Did you know Wales did single-malt whiskies? No, me neither!

As well as the public opening on the Saturday/Sunday (which is when I attended) it’s open to trade visitors from the Wednesday. As such, several brands use the week to make major announcements. Of particular note this year was Qatar Airways launching their new Economy product, which I must say looks rather nice, and is a pleasant change from some other ‘legacy’ airlines which are cheapening the quality of their interiors.

Qatar’s new Economy Class seating – the seats are more comfortable than they look!

Anyway, why was I there? As someone with a keen interest in the travel industry, it was an invaluable chance to meet like-minded people and also some useful contacts within major brands. It’s also inspired me with a couple of travel-related projects I want to get involved with, which I’ll expand on separately in future articles all being well!

Iran wins my award for ‘most impressive entry to a country’s exhibition space’!

It was also a chance for me to try out a couple of routes I’ve not done before. Rather than fly direct to Berlin, I flew with EasyJet from Luton into Dortmund Airport, then (once I’d cleared the hideous passport control queues! It’s a tiny airport and can’t cope if multiple flights arrive at once…) got a German High Speed (ICE) train (an ICE2) to/from Berlin. Whilst I’ve been on an ICE service before, this was several years ago, so I’d forgotten just how nice an environment the ICE trains offer – spacious, quiet and comfortable! I’d love to see a long-distance UK train of that standard, though the British network is a lot busier, so it’s not feasible to have quite the same space.

The view from my seat on the ICE train. One thing I particularly like is the clear trilingual information displays, displaying information in German, English & French!

As well as my first time attending ITB, it was my first visit to Berlin, and, whilst the weather tried its best to make Berlin grey and dreary, it felt very vibrant and cosmopolitan – a real ‘world city’! The urban transport network is well integrated too – a combination of ‘S-Bahn’ suburban railways and ‘U-Bahn’ underground lines. Here’s some of my highlights in my time looking round the city in photo form – though this time was limited sadly, next year I’ll make sure to allow a full day or two being a tourist rather than the few hours I allowed myself on this trip.

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So, in conclusion, it was a great long weekend and I’m already looking forward to going back to Berlin for ITB 2020 if not before. If you’ve got even a passing interest in the global travel industry, I’d highly recommend a visit. Would be interested if you’ve been to any other industry events that you think are worth a trip, or maybe you were even at ITB last weekend? If so, let me know in the comments!

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