Festive opening of ITB Berlin
Host country Georgia with a fascinating programme of stage events
March 07, 2023
Celebrity figures from the world of politics attended the opening of ITB Berlin 2023, with Governing Mayor of Berlin Franziska Giffey, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck and Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili welcoming the many guests from all over the world to the World’s Largest Travel Trade Show at the City Cube and setting the stage for events to come. Along with industry representatives, among them WTTC President Julia Simpson and UNWTO General-Secretary Zurab Pololikashvili, they see the industry making a comeback after the crisis caused by the pandemic. Accordingly, there are common strategies being worked on to confront challenges such as climate change. Georgian artists gave an impressive taste of what this year’s host country has to offer with a programme of show events.
After the years of the pandemic it was important to savour these moments of meeting in person, said Dirk Hoffmann, CFO and interim CEO of Messe Berlin, at the festive opening of the show. Under the heading ’Open for Change’, 5,500 exhibitors from 150 countries are gathering at ITB Berlin 2023. Taking as its slogan ’Mastering Transformation’, the ITB Berlin Convention is opening parallel with the show on Tuesday, 7 March, and will host lectures and discussions featuring 400 speakers at 200 sessions, with topics on challenges such as sustainability and digitalisation.
Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey emphasised how important tourism was for the economy as well as the international flair of the German capital. In 2022, the city had welcomed 10.4 million visitors, more than twice as many as the year before. ITB Berlin was an important showcase for the city which itself was represented as a tourism destination at the event.
Julia Simpson, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) stressed how hard the pandemic had hit global tourism. 62 million people worldwide had lost their jobs. She was delighted the tourism industry was back and that demand was actually exceeding that of 2019. Nevertheless, the industry faced challenges. It was particularly impacted by climate change and had imposed concrete measures upon itself to become carbon-neutral by 2050. UNWTO General-Secretary Zurab Pololikashvili sees the resurgence of tourism as a sign of trust. It was the industry’s task now to become more resilient to global crises and grow even more.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck welcomed the industry’s efforts to improve sustainability. Tourism created cultural bridges, enabled peaceful encounters and an intellectual exchange of views. However, having the freedom to explore the world was no justification for destroying the Earth. For that reason it was urgently necessary to reduce carbon emissions.
In his speech Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili whetted listeners’ appetites for visiting the country. With its many climate zones and rich history, it offered both nature lovers and culturally interested visitors the opportunity for a fascinating holiday experience. At the show that followed, Georgian artists offered an impressive insight into the country’s wide-ranging performing arts.