Tourism as a 'Bridge to Peace': Insights from ITB Berlin 2024 Opening Conference | Tourismag.com
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ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel trade show, kicked off in Berlin with a forward-looking approach addressing the pressing challenges of our time. Dr. Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, expressed optimism during the opening press conference, highlighting the industry's resilience for stable growth post-pandemic. H.E. Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi, Undersecretary of Tourism of the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism in Oman, this year's host country, underscored the role of tourism as "a bridge to peace" for the world.

Dr. Tobias emphasized ITB Berlin's comprehensive "360-degree approach," extending to other ITB brand family members in Shanghai, Singapore, and India. These platforms showcased emerging trends, artificial intelligence applications, and maintained the tradition of face-to-face meetings, which became challenging during the Covid pandemic.

Notable returns to ITB Berlin included major countries like China, with Air India making its debut. Dr. Tobias highlighted the unprecedented collaboration of German-speaking countries—Austria, Switzerland, and Germany—under one roof in hub27. The event saw expanded participation from countries like Greece, Turkey, and Arab states, reflecting the growth in their tourism industries. The Travel Technology segment experienced significant growth, further diversifying the offerings.

H.E. Azzan bin Qassim al Busaidi celebrated Oman's success in building a robust tourism infrastructure, emphasizing the cultural heritage and natural attractions of the Sultanate. In 2023, Oman welcomed four million visitors, a remarkable 22% increase from 2022, with 231,000 arriving from Germany—an impressive surge of 182%. The undersecretary highlighted the country's commitment to sustainability and diversity in tandem with the tourism infrastructure expansion. When questioned about overtourism, he responded, "We are not overdoing it," emphasizing their careful approach to tourism management.

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