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Tourism as a bridge to peace

Dr. Mario Tobias talking with the host on the panel.

Dr. Mario Tobias talking with the host on the panel.

ITB Berlin opened in Berlin on Monday with fascinating answers to global challenges. At the opening press conference Dr. Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, was optimistic that in the wake of the pandemic and following the release of the latest figures, the industry was on course for stable growth. H.E. Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi, Undersecretary of Tourism of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in Oman, this year’s host country, said tourism was “a bridge to peace“ for the world.

Dr. Tobias said ITB Berlin, the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show, maintained a “360-degree approach“. That also included the other ITB brand family members in Shanghai, Singapore and India, which showcased both new trends and the use of AI while also maintaining the tradition of face-to-face meetings for example, which had become almost impossible during the Covid pandemic.

Thus major countries including China were back at ITB Berlin. Among the newcomers was Air India. Dr. Tobias remarked that for the first time the German-speaking countries Austria, Switzerland and Germany were represented under one roof in hub27. Other countries, such as Greece and Turkey as well as the Arab states were represented with larger stands, reflecting the growth of their tourism industries. The Travel Technology segment had significantly expanded too, he added.

H.E. Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi emphasised the success of his country in building a tourism infrastructure and praised the cultural heritage and natural attractions of the Sultanate. In 2023 Oman registered four million visitors, a 22 per cent increase over 2022. 231,000 came from Germany, an increase of 182 per cent. Great care was being taken to ensure sustainability and diversity accompanied the expansion of the tourism infrastructure, he said. Asked about overtourism, the undersecretary replied: “We are not overdoing it“.