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Tuesday, 13th March 2018
Germany Federal Chancellor, Dr. Angela Merkel delivers her speech at the official opening of ITB Berlin 2018
ITB Berlin - the World's Leading Travel Trade Show kicked off last evening with a festive opening gala in Hall B at the CityCube Berlin attended by tourism ministers from around the world and the leaders of the tourism sector. Uganda's Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu was in attendance.

The Germany Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel who officially opened the event stressed the role of tourism in the sustainability agenda.

"Tourism is an example of the opportunities of globalisation. Tourism brings people closer together and creates the foundation for growth," said Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We are committed to the Agenda 2030. We are committed to sustainable tourism," she added. 

Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) while delivering his message at the opening event stressed how tourism not only needed to consolidate current growth rates, but "to grow better."

"We gather at a time when a record number of tourists are travelling around the world." he said. "International tourist arrivals grew by 7% in 2017, to reach 1.3 billion. This is an all-time record. Today, 10% of the world's GDP, 10% of the world's jobs, and 7% of the world's total exports come from tourism."

Mr. Pololikashvili stressed education and job creation, innovation and technology, safety and security; and sustainability and climate change as the priorities for the sector to consolidate its contribution to sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, against the backdrop of its expansion in all world regions and the socio-economic impact this entails.

"Tourism's sustained growth brings immense opportunities for economic welfare and development," said the UNWTO Secretary-General, while warning at the same time that it also brings in many challenges. "Adapting to the challenges of safety and security, constant market changes, digitalization and the limits of our natural resources should be priorities in our common action," he added.

He called for the promotion of a tourism alliance between ministries, local administrations, private sector, technology partners, and so many others on the wide-reaching tourism value chain. He announced that the UNWTO was ready to support and work with all stakeholders to make this happen.

Other speakers at the opening ceremony included the Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Muller, the President of the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW) Dr. Michael Frenzel, the Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Manuela Schwesig and Dr. Christian Goke, CEO of Messe Berlin.

Source: Uganda Embassy, Berlin