The season of tourist fairs is starting again, with events that promise to be larger and more important than in the past. Next month, BIT 2004 – the International Tourist Exchange, by now a traditional appointment – will be held in Milan, and the following month Berlin will host the ITB, the immense exhibition of the tourist offer worldwide.
At the end of the events, there will always be somebody complaining that fairs are losing importance, that participation is mainly driven by the principle that “you have to be there to be seen”, and it may well be that there is some truth to this statement.
In the last few years, the Internet has become increasingly pervasive in our lives; business, and tourism in particular, has seized the opportunity to cut times and promote actions that reduce the “waste of product”, last-minute travelling to mention but one. Fair organisers, too, have experimented with this technology, in a few attempts at virtual fairs which would have provided the sure benefit of cutting down on travelling and the waste of time, but never managed to take off, and were left at the stage of a product catalogue.
Why has this otherwise successful innovation failed in the tourist sector? Maybe because personal contact between people is still essential and irreplaceable in certain areas. There is no other way to explain the investments made in order to be visible, not only at fairs but also at the satellite events that are often organised at the highest levels. As part of the Berlin ITB, for example, we will be participating in a gala dinner where the chefs will be five superstars of world cuisine, who have been attributed three Michelin stars.
The truth may be that we are still driven by a desire to establish contact with other people – a healthy response to an increasingly virtual society.
Translation of the Italian
editorial by Paola Praloran