ITB Berlin 2020 homing in on digitalisation and sustainability

ITB Berlin

This year’s edition of ITB Berlin, which takes place from March 4-7, will shine the spotlight on digitalisation and sustainability – two topics that are fundamental to the global tourism industry.

Without an elaborate digitalisation plan and a far-reaching sustainability strategy, tourism professionals would not be able to ensure solid progress and long-term opportunities. These two topics will be investigated at the ITB Berlin Convention 2020 as part of the elaborate programme of events at the CityCube Berlin.

Experts, researchers, industry executives and policymakers will provide information in their keynote speeches, which will be complemented by in-depth discussions and interviews.


On March 4, the first ITB Responsible Destination Day, ITB Berlin attendees will be able to explore the topic of socially aware travel behaviour, with a focus on the prospects for reaching sustainability goals. A 13:00 session will investigate how expedition cruises can be made environmentally friendly, hosted by Thomas P. Illes, a cruise analyst and university lecturer, who will debate the issue with four leading expedition cruise experts.

At 17:00 on the same day, the Ministers’ Roundtable will discuss various sustainable destination best practices.

On March 5, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) will hold the ITB Tourism for Sustainable Development Day for the fourth time. At 15:00, Norbert Barthle, the parliamentary secretary of state at the BMZ, will hold a keynote speech. Topics of the day will include partnerships in tourism and opportunities for women.

At the ITB Deep Dive sessions at the CityCube, taking the topic of Wise Dodo on Mauritius as an example, CEO, DER Touristik Group, Sören Hartmann and Tourism Minister of Mauritius, the Hon. G. P. Lesjogard, will discuss the prospects for destinations in the face of the growing trend towards sustainability. The WWF and Futouris will present their concepts at two afternoon Deep Dive sessions, with a focus on plastic waste.

Moving on to March 6, the ITB CSR Day will include a keynote speech by the climate expert, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, on ‘Climate Change, Global Warming and Weather Extremes’ at 11:00.

Following this, Hot Seat participants will examine the facts and discuss the conflicting views of Fridays for Future and tourism operators.

Also, on that day, The Studiosus Discussion will take place at 13:00 under the heading ‘It makes sense to travel. But does it really?’.

Moving on to digitalisation-related events at ITB Berlin; On March 4 – the ITB Future Day – CEO, TrendOne, Nils Müller will talk about the trends, technology and developments necessary for a successful future. The session to follow will be a discussion on the impact of digitalisation and the failure of Thomas Cook.

Afternoon events will include ’Future Air and Ground Mobility’ at 16:00 and ’Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Robotics & Co’ at 17:00.

At 11:00 the next day, the CEO Interview on ITB Marketing & Distribution Day will see CEO, Sabre, Sean Menke take to the stage, followed by CEO, TUI, Friedrich Joussen.

At 13:00 on March 5, Thomas P. Illes will talk to executive chairman, MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago, about trends and challenges in the cruise market, and at 14:00, global head – travel and hospitality, Amazon Web Services, David Peller will take part in a Q&A.

Finally, on the Friday of the convention at the ITB Destination Day at 11:00, participants will explore the options for personalised travel experiences. At 13:00, chief creative evangelist, Google, Mike Yapp will provide insight into the ’Future of Destination Marketing: Youtube and Video Marketing’.

At 16:00, a discussion will take place about the underestimated challenges facing destinations in the age of Instagram influence and other social media.

Finally, during the ITB Deep Dive session at noon, the focus will be on what Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant can offer and their associated risks.