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12th Pow-Wow for trade visitors: Focus on astro-tourism and human rights

12_Pow_Wow ITB Berlin 2016_adventure stage

Focus on controversial issues surrounding eco-tourism, adventure travel and astro-tourism at the 12th Pow-Wow for trade visitors, which will take place at ITB Berlin 2017 at Adventure Travel & Responsible Tourism from 8 to 10 March in Hall 4.1b.

Responsible travel and the ‘International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development’ as declared by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), will be the dominant themes. The importance of this fast-growing market is reflected by the fact that, for the first time, Hall 4.1b, the venue for Adventure Travel & Responsible Tourism, is fully booked. Close to 60 exhibitors from 35 countries will be presenting their latest products and services for adventure and eco-travel, and for economically and socially responsible tourism.

“Eco-tourism has become mainstream“, says a delighted David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin. “Nowadays everyone knows that this is a socially responsible form of relaxation.” Because of the internet and their own personal research, travellers are significantly better informed than they were only a few years ago. David Ruetz emphasises ITB Berlin’s commitment: “As long ago as 2004 adventure travel and eco-tourism were given an extensive platform by us. It enables us to support companies in their efforts to design tourism products and services that are economically, socially and ecologically responsible.”

Three Days full of Lectures, workshops and discussion rounds

The three-day Pow-Wow for Tourism Professionals has always been a meeting place for visitors, exhibitors, partners and sponsors on the days open exclusively to trade visitors. The key theme of this symposium, now in its twelfth year and the only one of its kind worldwide, is ’Gazing into the night skies’ sparkling diamonds – a journey through the vast universe’. Discussion will focus on how important the stars and planets are for life on earth. Experts will have information for the international travel industry on how the challenges for realising sustainable and responsible astro-tourism can be met, and will also talk about the impact on eco-systems of increasing light pollution from artificial light. Botswana, the official partner country of ITB Berlin 2017, has declared 40 per cent of its land surface a nature reserve and is committed to a sustainable wildlife conservation programme for humankind. This country in southwest Africa is one of those destinations with natural, clear night skies that are free of light pollution.

In his lecture entitled ’The many facets of astro-tourism’, Dr. Andreas Hänel, an astronomer and the director of the planetarium at Museum am Schölerberg, Osnabrück, will highlight that 60 per cent of Europeans and 80 per cent of North Americans can no longer see the Milky Way. In his keynote speech Harald Bardenhagen, astronomer and the director of the Eifel National Dark Sky Park, will explain the importance of darkness for human health and biodiversity. He will also present a workshop on astro-photography, with details about the right equipment for observing stars and planets. Tim F. Horn, the director of the Zeiss Planetarium in Berlin, will take visitors on a tour of the universe. This interactive presentation will offer live simulations of natural phenomena such as solar eclipses. The Astro-Tourism Day will end with a discussion by experts on the ‘Challenges and benefits of astronomy and dark nights for sustainable development’.

Day two will be devoted to socially responsible tourism. Exhibitors and experts will illustrate how others can learn from the experience of those already practising socially responsible and sustainable tourism. One shining example is Slovenia. The Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2017 is the world’s first country to have been declared a ’green destination’. As part of the track entitled ’Slovenia makes you green!’, five tourism professionals from Slovenia will present a programme called ’Slovenia Green’ as a best practice.

A highly topical issue for many years, to which ITB Berlin has made its own contribution with numerous initiatives, concerns human rights and the protection of children. Rika Jean-Francois, CSR commissioner of ITB Berlin and a board member of The Code, will chair a panel discussion on this subject. Dorothy Rozga, executive director, ECPAT International, and Damien Brosnan, programme manager, The Code, will have information on ’Child Protection in Tourism’. This will be followed by the official signing of the Child Protection Code by other tourism companies. Afterwards, at a round table discussion on human rights in tourism, the focus will be on how to ensure implementation of human rights in the hotel industry.

Geoparks and the protection of species – an important legacy for future generations

UNESCO geoparks make a valuable contribution to the sustainable development of regions with geological sites and landscapes of international geoscientific importance. Prof. Dr. Nikolaos Zouros, president of the UNESCO European Geoparks Network, will present new projects and significant activities in this field. Adventure travel is a booming market worldwide, which is why the subsequent track will dwell on the subject of ‘Culture, Biodiversity and Adventure Tourism’. Experts from Mexico, India and the Balkans will discuss ‘Is the spirit of exploration and adventure still alive?’ and ‘How can tourism experts develop sustainable adventure travel?’

Taking the project ’Race for Rhinos’ as an example, Botswana, the partner country of ITB, will document successful and multi-award winning projects for the protection of species. Jillian Blackbeard, executive marketing manager of the Botswana Tourism Organisation and the Tlhokomela Endangered Wildlife Trust Botswana will report on the largest rhino relocation programme in southern Africa. At least one hundred specimens of this endangered species now live in protected areas in Botswana.

Boom in cycle tourism and wildlife watching

On day three of the Pow-Wow the focus will be on sustainable tourism involving experienced experts at a session entitled ’Responsible Tourism Clinics’. At a panel discussion under the heading of ’Developing successful cycle tourism products’ Ádám Boder, EuroVelo and advocacy director of the European Cyclists‘ Federation, and Kevin Kalfels, press and marketing manager of Romantischer Rhein Tourismus GmbH in Germany, as well as Carolien Ruebens, the project officer of European Cyclists‘ Federation, will explain how and why cycle tourism has been transformed from a niche product into a booming market. Other session headings will include the ‘TourCert certification of sustainable tourism destinations’ and successful ’Community-based tourism projects’, as demonstrated by Kayah State (Myanmar), Sierra Gorda de Querétaro (Mexico) and Gems of Kenya.

Rounding off the Pow-Wow will be ‘Wildlife Watching Tourism’. Following a keynote speech by Anja Domnick, the project officer of the UNESCO Wadden Sea World Heritage, there will be a seminar entitled ’Make bird watching fit for tourism’. Afterwards, Elmar Mai, a biologist and journalist, and Fabian Ritter, a biologist and scientific adviser to Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), will speak about the green paradise and whale watching in the Dominican Republic. There will follow lectures on pristine Mongolia and a new tourism model for Macedonia, as well as the presentation of an initiative called ’Following the footprints of wildcats’ by the Selva Bananito Lodge and Reserve in Costa Rica. The 12th Pow-Wow will conclude with the ‘Blue Yonder Responsible Tourism Clinics’ and the 9th ITB Responsible Tourism Networking Event which will ask about ‘Ways to communicate and market sustainable tourism’.

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Hall 4.1b / Adventure Stage and Event Area

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