ITB 2021, Europe’s largest business-to-business travel trade show, took place from 9 to 12 March. Normally held on-site at the Berlin Exhibition Centre around this time every year, this year was the first time the event was held online. The first event took place in 1966 and has continued for more than half a century. To strengthen our relationship with the travel media in Europe, we participated in the Japan Pavilion organized by JNTO with our online Yokohama stand. This year’s ITB, which was held online for the first time, attracted around 3,500 exhibitors from 120 countries and 65,000 visitors to the online platform, according to the organizers. Compared to the ITB 2019, which was held as a face-to-face event with around 10,000 exhibitors and 160,000 visitors, this year’s online event saw a drop in attendance of around 60%.
In recent years, the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has continued to expand the Japan Pavilion, and associations or municipalities can apply for a stand in the pavilion. Last year, our Yokohama representative office had already applied for a stand, but unfortunately the event was then cancelled at short notice due to the spread of the Corona virus. This year, we were finally able to use the opportunity of an online showcase to make the information materials provided by the Yokohama Convention & Visitors Bureau (YCVB) and several video contents available to trade fair visitors for whom Yokohama was not yet so well known. In addition to the meeting requests we received, we also reached out to European-based media and travel agencies that cover tourism in Japan to introduce Yokohama’s touristic potential and share ideas on how to promote Yokohama in Europe via social networks and digital magazines.
When discussing the timing of travel, the optimistic view was that it would start this autumn. Perhaps the more realistic assumption was that it would start this winter. In the worst-case scenario, the start of travel could be delayed until April or even summer of the coming year. Based on these assessments and observing the actual situation, we will promote the destination of Yokohama more strongly to European tourists in the future.