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ITB Berlin Berlin


March 4-8 ■Messe Berlin ■ Germany TOURISM PUSH


New York City plans world’s biggest wheel


NEW YORK City is to gain the world’s largest observation wheel as part of a new multi-million dollar development designed to strengthen the city’s enduring popularity. The 630ft New York Wheel is due


REPORT CONFERENCE


■THE EVENT: ITB Berlin ■ATTENDED BY: Sara Macefield ■AUDIENCE: More than 110,000 trade visitors on the first three days before the show opened to the public for the weekend. ■THEMES COVERED: Travel technology; gay and lesbian travel; adventure and sustainable tourism; digital and social media ■THREE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS: Egyptian tourism minister Hisham Zaazou’s spirited and passionate defence of his country; the wonderful food at the Steigenberger Hotel Group “kitchen” party; and the stunning night-time view of Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate


Thailand fights effects of unrest


THAILAND IS pushing ahead with promotional plans to help reach its goal of a record 28 million tourist arrivals this year, despite the ongoing street protests in Bangkok. Political unrest has been a


continuing problem for the country since 2006 and the most recent round of troubles started in November. But officials do not consider these


to be as serious as previous protests, and Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Tourism Authority of Thailand deputy governor for international marketing, hopes to unveil details of the next campaign when the disturbances settle down. “We have to do something,” she


said. “We have been waiting to see when the situation regarding the protests becomes clearer, and maybe that will happen in a month.” However, in the meantime she


stressed that people should not be deterred from visiting Thailand or its


10 13.03.2014


attractions and shopping malls are still open as normal.” She added that many travellers


visiting Thailand’s other regions, and particularly the beach resorts in the south, could bypass the capital altogether. Last year, the country enjoyed its


best-ever tourism performance as arrivals jumped nearly 20% to 26.7 million. The Russian market took the top spot after rocketing more than 31% to 1.7 million, while the UK market grew by a more modest 4% to just over 906,000. However, January’s arrival figures


are more mixed as the effect of the unrest started to bite with the Asian market falling by 5% over the same month in 2013, though Europe powered ahead with a 9% jump. Thailand intends to continue its


Bangkok’s attractions are open as usual


capital as the unrest is confined to a small area, focused on domestic issues and not aimed at tourists. “The rest of Bangkok is still


open and life is going on as usual,” she confirmed. “The Grand Palace, museums,


focus on niche markets such as weddings and honeymoons, golf, medical and wellness and green tourism based around Thai cultural experiences. But its forthcoming campaign is


likely to concentrate on encouraging past visitors to the country under the social media theme of Best Friends Are Forever.


to open in 2016 on Staten Island, just south of Manhattan, along with a new retail complex called Empire Outlets and a 200-room hotel. The project is part of plans to


spread tourism out from Manhattan to New York’s other four boroughs, an initiative that started with its Neighborhood x Neighborhood campaign. Christopher Heywood, NYC &


Company senior vice-president communications, said travel trade kits had already been launched for Long Island City, Queens, the downtown Brooklyn area and Lower Manhattan and there were plans for more in the coming year. “New York continues to evolve and


we are educating consumers and the trade about what it offers,” he said. “People shouldn’t just limit their


trips to Manhattan, but explore the boroughs and neighbourhoods and taste authentic New York.” The city’s hotel stock is also being boosted with the opening of 34 properties this year and another 55 in the pipeline over the next two years, taking its room tally up to 115,000 by the end of 2016. New York is aiming to reach its


goal of 55 million annual visitors in 2014, a year earlier than planned.


Artist’s impression of the new wheel


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