Here in Berlin at the Cafe Fürst & Iven, next to the Savignyplatz S-Bahn (Metro) station, decompressing after the ITB Berlin International Travel Trade Show. This was my first time here and was revelatory in a couple of ways
First, the whole world was here, from the Congo to Iran to Andorra and Las Vegas. The show covered three floors of an entire indoor fairground. I would estimate almost 6 city blocks of exhibitions. Lichentenstien was a mile and a half from Libya, yes Libya is already selling bedouin desert tours and coastal holidays! The world is enormous, and I want to explore more.
Second, the tourism business is both an obnoxious exercise in the promotion of conspicuous consumption and an incredible vehicle for personal growth, creativity and inspiration. Navigating my way through this monster of a show was the challenge. I think I did ok. My goal was to meet like-minded travel professionals in the Southern Balkans and Eastern Europe who can assist me in developing meaningful workshop programs and I did just that. I met with people from Albania, Kosovo, Georgia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia-Hertsogovenia, Montenegro, Kazakstan, Croatia, Turkey, Malta and others that I can’t remember. This is forgotten Europe. The cultural landscape here is exotic and pastoral. The Empires of the Byzantines, Austro- Hungarians, Ottomans and Soviets have all left their marks. These lands have riches of natural beauty, art and architectural grandeur yet also bear the scars of a conflicted and sometimes violent history. Interestingly, despite the recent European economic downturn, the people I met from these places seemed genuinely positive and hopeful for the future.
Thirdly, Turkey is a POWERHOUSE. The Turks had an entire stadium’s worth of exhibitions and were charming and sophisticated in their presentations. There are so many possibilities I want to explore there and I can’t wait to offer new programs in this complicated, and spectacular nation.
Will have more later!