– written by me, not by ChatGPT –

It was an awesome, intense week of planned and spontaneous meetings, greetings, events and exchange. The first ITB Berlin post-pandemic.

Cold, snowing, windy, sleet, rain – Berlin March, the ugly version. A week between joy, second thoughts, and after returning, when going through my picture gallery – worries.

All in all, I couldn´t stop the feeling that huge events slowly seem to have fallen out of time; our pledges for change are much stronger than what we keep doing in reality. Traditional fairs and conferences need more than a facelift to stay legit also in the future, because “Back to the Future” stays science fiction.

From my personal-professional highlights here just a few – and my plan to take a selfie of every meeting did not work out ;=). However, the collection of 70% is here.

  • Stay longer, do more, see more. On 6th March, a full-day productive meeting of the Board of the Global Ecotourism Network – in this very leftish location with a history. Recommendation!
  • Start with a power breakfast: the Tuesday one was reserved for my web designer Alex – for the first time we met without screens between us – and my Associate Claudia – power women in anything they engage in and that are so great to work and laugh with. A great start!
  • Ukraine, and Khrystyna, the Head of Lviv tourism office. Our conversations felt so right and so surreal at the same time. A country at war, the young women at the mini stand so unbelievably positive, and your message leaving no doubts – Visit After Victory. ITB 2024: please reserve this country a big, beautiful space, free of charge.
  • With Balkan Green across all sustainability stages, in meetings, the Travelife for Tour Operators SUSTOUR Experience Exchange, with Green Destinations, and at our after-work meetup (18 prize winners!)… Balkan spirit delivered, and rakija connecting people.
  • Heads up for social entrepreneurship: a spontaneous ladies´ networking dinner with the winners Joanna of Wheel the World and Paola of Ancestral Teacher – meet them, and you know why there is hope.
  • Responsible tourism networking on Thursday, extended with a post-event long lunch with Rika, Vicky and Gopi: the Blue Yonder videos from Kerala are not public yet, but I hope them to soon become a must-be-included-in-every-class – of tourism with impact.
  • The keynote of Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Schellnhuber: We were privileged to be listening to a 1972 member of the Club of Rome – here once more the link to the Limits to Growth. After the facts and projections that we saw and should all know by now, his suggestion how we still could stop the catastrophic consequences of the climate crisis sounds easy: sustainable timber architecture and radical reforestation to re-green the planet.
  • On Sunday, on my way back through Podgorica, Montenegro, I saw with new eyes the incredible explosion of monotonous, inhuman concrete buildings , cramped into this little capital city, while natural green spaces are destroyed faster and faster. This country is doing exactly the opposite of what was explained by Prof. Schellnhuber.

The good vibes of Berlin soon turned to fever shakes and on Monday my COVID-19 test talked a clear language. The post-pandemic event of global joy may have turned to a super spreader – we just don´t know anymore. So, I started pondering… whom did I hug with and when? I know there are people among you with preconditions that can be dangerous with this virus: I hope and pray you are well.

Last not least, my humble notes for the next ITB organisers:

  1. Let the world join on site or online; let us have a choice. After the event, make all presentations and panels available online, for free. No waiting time necessary. Live tickets will be sold anyhow.
  2. Generally, in the programme planning, start early and pay attention that events such as Travelife Awards and Green Destinations Awards don´t overlap. The audiences are not the same but should come more often together.
  3. The hall stages are not ideal, neither for presenters nor the audience – too noisy, too much distraction.
  4. We are not post-COVID-19. Help us remember what the world was like without travel and tourism, and stay considerate in all the joy.