The ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) is the world's largest trade fair for the travel industry. It is held in Berlin annually, but I haven't had a chance to check it out until this year. To be honest, I don't have a lot of experience with events such as trade fairs, so I didn't really know what to expect.
I actually already considered going to ITB Berlin last year, but my spouse discouraged me, saying that what I would see there are tourist traps, and if I want information about potential travel destinations, then it would be better if I just did my research in a travel book shop, like I typically do. Anyway, this year, I really wanted to go, so I bought a ticket online which allowed me entrance during the weekend, when the trade fair opens to the public (apparently, the first three days are only for trade visitors).
The venue (Messe Berlin) was huge: I was actually in this area earlier during the winter for a company party, but I later learned that the Messe is way larger than what I have seen, and that I was only in a very small part of it. The exhibits were arranged geographically, and so I more or less travelled the world as I went through the various different exhibits.
I saw many interesting things, from ethnic dancers of Kazakhstan, sand painters of Algeria, throat singers of Mongolia, and musicians of Korea. I also tasted several foods and drinks, from Costa Rican coffee, Ivorian rum, to Emirati dates.
The trade fair is basically arranged per country, where each country has a booth, and the booths have several stalls within them which are dedicated to the various travel providers that are associated with that country. For me, it was an interesting and different way of seeing what is available to see in a particular travel destination.
For example, in the Spain booth, there were several smaller sections dedicated to each of its regions. And even in the large Germany booth, each German state had its own dedicated area, allowing visitors to see that there's much more to Germany than just Berlin. I didn't realise there's actually plenty to see in Hessen, which is the state where Frankfurt is located. It is much more than just the city and the huge airport.
Of course the event is driven by the travel industry and travel agents, and you have the opportunity to become a captive audience of all of these service providers. As a FIT (free independent traveller) I typically don't use the services of travel agents, but there are times when it becomes useful. Heck, I used the service of a travel agent to smoothly arrange my Iranian visa. I also used travel agents to do a 3-day excursion in the Sahara. In any case, I used the event as a way to enrich my knowledge of new places that I might want to go in the future. I don't think I would want to attend the ITB Berlin every year, but once in a while it is an interesting event to check out.