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ITB Berlin opens with a positive outlook

The artists are cheered on stage by the audience towards the end of the opening gala.

Artists on stage, in front of them the Royal Symphony Orchestra from the guest country Oman: the opening gala of ITB Berlin 2024 was a colourful celebration - multimedia spectacle included.

ITB Berlin opened with a highly positive outlook for the future. At the official opening ceremony on Monday evening in Berlin, all the speakers presented optimistic figures for the period immediately after the Covid pandemic. Framed by a spectacular multimedia show, they also appealed for tourism to exploit its bridge-building potential in a world that was becoming increasingly unstable.

“We are back“, said Dr. Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, in front of 2,500 international representatives of politics and business. Hosting over 5,500 exhibitors from 170 countries, ITB Berlin stood for face-to-face dialogue between tourism stakeholders, which was indispensable despite all the progress made by digitalisation and AI.

Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UN Tourism, added that in 2023 global tourist numbers had reached 1.3 billion, 34 per cent more than in 2022, and equal to 88 per cent of the volume in 2019. According to the tourism market research company Phocuswright, at close to two trillion dollars, turnover last year had returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Berlin’s Governing Mayor quoted the slogan of the 2006 World Cup – ’A time to make friends’ – noting that it applied to ITB Berlin. “We believe in tourism and ITB“, he said. Julia Simpson, CEO and president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), remarked that without a significant increase in the use of sustainable fuels, tourism could not achieve its net zero goals.

Dieter Janecek, the Federal Government's Coordinator for Tourism, said it was encouraging to see that net zero had gained top priority in many countries. “Tourism can be part of the solution“ for confronting climate change, he said.

H.E. Salim Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism of Oman, the host country of ITB Berlin, noted the many thousands of years in history that Omani explorers and traders had undertaken travelling to unknown regions. He urged a greater effort to end the war between Russia and Ukraine and the suffering of millions of civilians in the Gaza Strip following Israel’s response to the terrorist attacks by Hamas. The qualities of the Middle East, including tourism there, could only come to the fore once the violence had ended.

The event was framed by a show featuring impressive images of Oman’s landscapes and cultural attractions, to the musical accompaniment of the Sultanate’s Royal Symphony Orchestra, which had flown in for the occasion.