Early morning yesterday at the ITB, starting the day with a press conference of Albania, characterized by the country's ambassador as the 'sleeping beauty' of Europe. Under the logo 'The new Mediterranean love', the country has beaches, mountains, nature, heritage and UNESCO sites and hospitality, 'as part of the identity', the panel speakers were saying. Time to check all this by myself soon.
Nothing brings more sweetness to an early morning than chocolate. Especially if you can see it prepared in the front of you.
The next main stop of the day: the Cultural Lounge, at Sydney Hall, for a presentation about how culture can create a new beginning for the Dutch Wadden Sea Coast. The Center of Expertise, Leisure, Tourism and Hospitality (CELTH) is currently working on a study in this respect, but the future looks much better than now.
As the next week I plan to visit Leipzig Book Fair, I paid a short visit to some of the Saxony representatives for a better planning of my trip. Worth also a visit the Chic Outlets offices, for affordable luxury shopping trips, in several locations in Europe. My first experience with the concept, last year in Bicester Village, will not be the last, I am sure.
At the Middle East pavilion, incenses and old handworks are tempting the visitors.
But nothing is more tempting than the luxurious spa from Emirates, who created a big spaceship lounge where most business meetings in the area are taking place.
For the lunch, I enjoyed an interesting discussion about Groupon plans for the next year, especially in the domain of travel and tourism. In the German-speaking realm, there are around 3,5 million registered users, out of 200 million worldwide. As a regular user from the very beginning, I am pleased to notice the diversification of the portfolio, and the inclusion of 'wellness' and 'luxury' categories as part of the offer.
With a short break in between meetings, I made another stop at the Asian section, for some meetings. Indonesia is tempting the visitors with '30 culinary icons', a free dish mixing various traditional meals.
As I was not hungry, I rather watched the puppet player, together with other curious guests.
In the front of the Thai Spa, too many people in line for massage and a bit of professional wellness.
But there are always second chances, and mine was to observe how the Indonesian coffee is made.
With almost a double rate of increase of the tourist rate since 2010 (the first year of peace), Sri Lanka has ambitious plans for this year: 2,5 million tourists and Germany is an important market. At the press conference, the country was presented to the German public as 'one of the finest destination in the world since Marco Polo', outlining the interest of German scientists for the area, since Alexander von Humboldt.
It is unfair, but as I don't have serious plans for Latin America this year, I didn't visit the dedicated section too often. I wanted to correct this situation, and went for a couple of minutes around, being welcomed with colours and beautiful people.
Yesterday afternoon, Paraguay held a food tasting, that included cheese with manioca pancakes and some corn cakes.
California means a lot of leisure and pleasure if you visit, but if you work to #dreambig, there is a lot of effort and energy spent convincing people to visit and share the dream. As usual, I love the American work culture and cannot but appreciate the busy bees promoting various US states at the ITB.
Last but not least stop of the day: the champagne bar at Rotana Hotels, a luxury network of hotels spread all over the Middle East. The most recent event, the opening of a new hotel in Oman.
With most of my schedule done, and even some extra things solved, I will return to the ITB the next Sunday, for the closing session and more happenings.