The ITB Berlin Convention offers hope
Robert Habeck hopes tourism will encourage international understanding and praises Georgia as a travel destination
March 8, 2022
In his keynote speech, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Dr. Robert Habeck revealed himself to be a travel fan and an admirer of Georgia, the Convention & Culture Partner of ITB. At the same time he was visibly shaken by recent events – and said he was certain his welcome speech was the most difficult one a tourism minister had ever held at an ITB.
“If one takes a hard look at tourism then nothing really contrasts with and counterbalances war more than tourism“, said Habeck. By travelling people left their familiar surroundings and exposed themselves to new adventures and gained new experiences. “That way people meet, not through a political programme, but through everyday life“, said Habeck, who stressed that the ITB Berlin Convention “gives us hope“. “It offers hope to the industry, and that it will be possible to meet each other as human beings again instead of facing off as enemies in arms.“
Robert Habeck also emphasised the economic importance of tourism, which in Germany directly and indirectly accounts for 7 per cent of added value and 9 per cent of jobs. He noted that small and medium-sized companies were the backbone of the tourism industry, including bus companies, restaurants and the hospitality industry, and explained that the federal government would support it in overcoming the skills shortage. “We will not manage this without attracting skilled workers. We want to make it easier to get jobs, to fast-track approving job qualifications, visa applications and establish modules to make it easier to prepare from abroad“, Habeck said.
Habeck said Germany was not only the most travelled nation, but also the number one consumer of fossil fuels as a result of tourism. In his view, the revival of the tourism industry after the pandemic also had to be a reset in terms of pursuing zero emissions and sustainability. People’s desire to travel the world could not lead to the same world we wanted to experience being destroyed. He himself, Habeck said, was a “keen traveller“, but had no plans yet for taking holidays this year. It was still open as to whether Schleswig-Holstein or Georgia would be his destination. “I know that Georgia is next year’s partner country and that it has had a similar experience to Ukraine. I was there once and would gladly go again, as it is an absolutely fantastic place to be“, said Habeck.