Socially responsible travel at ITB Berlin: 15th Pow-Wow for Tourism Professionals


Over the last 17 years at ITB Berlin sustainable and socially responsible tourism have had a firmly established place in Hall 4.1b, underlining an environmentally friendly approach to tourism. This year more than 120 exhibitors from 34 countries are presenting their innovations and products for cultural tourism, nature tourism, socially responsible and sustainable tourism, geotourism and geoparks, adventure travel, astro-tourism and technology in tourism.

In addition to being represented in Hall 2.2 Oman, this year’s partner country of ITB Berlin, can also be found in Hall 4.1b, where the sultanate has information on its many sustainable adventure tourism initiatives. The Fridays for Future climate movement is among the newcomers to Hall 4.1b and directly next to the new CSR information stand. This features a vertically styled garden and will be attracting attention with wide-ranging information on the show’s commitment to sustainable travel.

15th Pow-Wow: knowledge for tourism professionals

This is the fifteenth time that the Pow-Wow for Tourism Professionals is being held in Hall 4.1b. Taking place from 4 to 6 March 2020, the symposium is the only one of its kind in the world. This year its heading is ’Corals and Reefs – The living gardens of the deep in peril’. Trade visitors will be able to meet international tourism professionals and experts at lectures, panel discussions, workshops and networking events which will highlight and discuss the latest aspects of socially responsible tourism, climate change and sustainability.

Hilary Cox (MBE), formerly North Norfolk district councillor and currently town councillor for Cromer, will begin with the main subject of ’Corals and Reefs’ on day one with a keynote speech on ’New ways to experience Europe’s cultural world heritage’. Afterwards, Dr. Catharina Greve, project coordinator for the National Park Coastal Protection and Marine Conservation of the Land of Schleswig-Holstein, will explain how marine life in the Wadden See can be explored in an environmentally friendly manner. Diana Körner will speak about ’25 years of protecting coral reefs’ as a result of eco-tourism on Chumbe Island Coral Park in Tanzania. Based on studies, the astronomer Dr. Andreas Hänel of the Dark Sky Technical Group, Vereinigung der Sternfreunde e.V., will explain how increasing levels of light pollution are negatively impacting coral and fish populations. Late in the afternoon the presentation will take place of the 3rd ITB Berlin Pow-Wow Prize for Excellence. This will be awarded to exhibitors in Hall 4.1b for their special achievements in protecting the planet’s biodiversity or for exemplary, sustainable and socially responsible tourism. The prizewinners are Gopinath Parayil, director and founder of The Blue Yonder; Prof. Dr. Nickolas Zouros, president of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network; Mechthild Maurer, managing director of ECPAT Germany; and Stefan Baumeister, managing director of myclimate Germany. Concluding the event, Susanne Brüsch, Germany’s e-bike ambassador, will announce the start of her global travel project entitled ‘E-Traction’. Tour operators will be able to benefit from the international coverage of the project team’s activities.

The ‘1st Astro-Tourism’ Meet-up is taking place on the stand of the Eifel National Park. Speakers include Dr. Andreas Hänel, who will talk about the latest trends in astro-tourism, Etta Dannemann, whose subject is astro-tourism events in Europe, and the astro-photographer Bernd Präschold will talk about the best European regions for observing the stars.

On Thursday, 5 March, the focus will be on active, cultural, sustainable and regenerative tourism. Taking the Ulcinj Salina Nature Park in Montenegro as an example, experts will talk about tourism development that respects both communities and nature. The project entitled ’Live like a Maasai – Experiences with impact at the foot of Kilimanjaro’ is also setting an example. All revenues from the lodge operated by the Maasai go directly to local community projects such as schools, nurseries and hospitals. In their lecture on ‘Tourism for everyone’ Nithi Subhongsang and Julian Kappes of Nutty’s Adventures Thailand will talk about their involvement in and efforts to create ’barrier-free Thailand 2020’. Under the heading ’Tajikistan: 5,000 years of Adventure’, Dr. Andrea Dall’Olio, lead financial sector economist for the World Bank Group (Italy) and Sophie Ibbotson, tourism development consultant for the World Bank Group (UK) will present their project. They will illustrate how the World Bank’s 30-million dollar programme for developing rural areas and the economy helps Tajikistan to exploit its natural and cultural heritage and the history of the country as well as to maximise its potential as a tourism destination. Rounding off the day’s events, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) will invite the global adventure travel community to attend its Adventure Connect networking event. Registration is mandatory for this event:

On Friday, 6 March, the last day of the Pow-Wow, topics will include the UNESCO Global Geoparks. In 2000, four geoparks from Greece, Spain, France and Germany set up the European Geoparks Network at ITB Berlin. There are now 147 UNESCO geoparks around the world belonging to the global geoparks network. Taking best practices as an example, Dr. Kristin Rangnes, treasurer of the Global Geoparks Network and managing director of the Gea Norvegica Geopark in Norway, will explain the various roles that geoparks occupy in our society. Dr. Jutta Weber, managing director of the UNESCO geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald in Germany, will present the 2030 United Nations agenda for sustainable development of UNESCO as well as the UNESCO Global Geopark Bergstraße-Odenwald, which has subscribed to 17 sustainability goals for regional development of its territory. After this event, Petra Cruz, European director of the Tourism Association of the Dominican Republic, Marion Hammerl, president of the Global Nature Fund, and Tim Philippus, ‘whale whisperer 2020’, will hold a multimedia presentation taking the audience on an impressive tour of the habitats of hump-backed whales in the Dominican Republic and introduce marine wildlife conservation projects.

Cycle tourism is another topic of key interest. Visitors attending the presentations and panel discussions of the ‘3rd Cycling Tourism Day’ can find out about the trends and rapid developments taking place in this tourism market. The European Cyclists Association (ECF) and the German Cyclists’ Association (ADFC) will hold workshops providing detailed information on the development of successful products for cycle tourism. They will also highlight attractive cycle routes for touring natural and cultural heritage sites, coastal regions and countries in Europe. In his lecture on ’Cycling from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea’, Bernard Phelan, European marketing manager of Caravan Kooch Adventure Travel Iran, will talk about cycle tourism in Iran. Axel Carion, chief executive officer of BikingMan, France, will talk about ultra-endurance cycling events in Oman, France, Brazil, Peru, Portugal, Laos and Taiwan.

By contrast, this year’s Responsible Tourism Clinics will deal with pressing issues. To begin with they will provide information on ‘Tourism Declares a Climate Emergency (TDCE)’, an international initiative. Afterwards a discussion will take place on how, in times of crisis, the tourism industry can help to create resilient destinations.

The 15th Pow-Wow for Tourism Professionals will conclude with the ’12th ITB Berlin Responsible Tourism Networking Event’, starting at 6 p.m. Rika Jean-François, CSR commissioner of ITB Berlin, and Gopinath Parayil, founder and chief executive officer of The Blue Yonder, India, will be inviting guests to attend. Everyone will be able to briefly present themselves and their project on stage. Afterwards there will be ample opportunity to network. No registration is required.

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