Saxony and Russia are to date the only exhibitors to present their tourism services at ITB Berlin, ITB Asia, ITB China and ITB India. In an interview, Veronika Hiebl, managing director of Tourismus Marketing Gesellschaft Saxony mbH (TMGS), and Wolfgang Gärtner, head of Foreign Marketing at TMGS, explain how important it is for Saxony as a tourism destination to participate in four ITBs, and what its focus will be as the partner country of ITB Berlin 2021.
As a tourism destination, why is it so important for Saxony to be represented at four ITBs?
TMGS: ITB Berlin, the “mother“ of all four ITBs, the world’s largest show for trade visitors, a shop window and international marketplace, has always been a very important B2B event for TMGS. For us, it very quickly became clear and was only logical that Saxony would participate in ITB Asia as the first offshoot of ITB Berlin. It took part in the debut event. After an initial phase to become established, ITB Asia has developed well from our point of view, and provides excellent opportunities for meeting tour operators particularly from countries which would otherwise be difficult to contact, for example from Indonesia or Malaysia, as well as Singapore itself. Setting up ITB China was a logical step, due to the growing importance of the Chinese market. Saxony was represented there from the start too. Even though TMGS employs two of its own representatives in China we are always able to make many new contacts at ITB China. TMGS will not be missing out on the first edition of ITB India either. By taking part in all three shows we are able to cover the entire Asian market, which in our view still has a large growth potential.
How important are the markets in Asia, India and China for Saxony?
TMGS: Overall, these markets are very important for Saxony. China has unquestionably become Asia’s largest market and is one of Saxony’s ten most important foreign markets. In terms of volume Japan has lost significant ground in recent years, but continues to be very important. The markets in South Korea and Taiwan have developed very well too. With India, the picture is somewhat diverse. We now have lots of visitors from India, especially in Dresden, who however spend overnights outside Saxony.
What are your plans and what can you tell us about Saxony’s participation in ITB Asia 2019, ITB India 2020 and ITB China 2020?
TMGS: At ITB Asia, Saxony was represented on a combined stand of German exhibitors which established itself as a good – and necessary – replacement for the former German stand of DZT. At ITB India, Saxony will probably be hosting its own stand. As regards ITB China, we are currently still in talks with both the DZT and VIR.
What are your goals at the shows in Singapore, Mumbai and Shanghai?
TMGS: In our opinion, it is fundamentally important to make a personal appearance on the foreign markets where one wants to establish a foothold. Saxony has not always topped the list of first-time visitors to Germany, in part due to inadequate flight connections. It is therefore all the more important to raise awareness for it in face-to-face meetings and provide information on how Saxony can be part of a travel programme for visiting Europe. Furthermore, every year all three trade shows provide an excellent opportunity to establish new contacts, especially because there is no lack of new trade visitors at successive events. Thus there will be many tour operators finding out about Saxony at the fairs in 2019/2020.
What will be your key focus and who will be representing you at the event?
TMGS: In terms of content, we will continue to focus on art and culture. Under the international umbrella brand of “Saxony. State of the Arts.“ we have been positioning Saxony on the market for many years as the number one German destination for cultural attractions. Naturally, we vary our emphasis depending on the market. Since July of this year Saxony has gained another World Cultural Heritage Site – the Ore Mountains/Krušnohoří, which we will be focusing on particularly in China. In India the emphasis will be on the many links Saxony has with the country. We will be presenting other attractions, including the recently re-opened state rooms of Dresden’s Royal Palace. And of course we will be putting the spotlight on Saxony’s role as ITB Berlin’s official partner country in 2021. At ITB Asia TMGS will be represented by Dorothea Schäffler. Victor Xu and Andrew Leung, our representative and area manager respectively for Southern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, will be on our stand In China. Veronika Hiebl, managing director of TMGS, and Wolfgang Gärtner, head of Foreign Marketing, will be travelling to ITB India.
You are the official partner country of ITB Berlin 2021. Can you already tell us what your focus will be and what highlights visitors can expect?
TMGS: As already mentioned, Saxony has been positioning itself as the number one German destination for cultural attractions for many years, particularly on the international market. Thus, it will come as no surprise that this will be the focus of our partner country displays. We want to present Saxony’s cultural attractions in all their wonderful diversity. Thus, the opening event will already be a spectacular cultural highlight. This will naturally also be the main theme on our stand. We are also planning to present some cultural attractions in Berlin.