Tourism dignitaries wowed at ITB’s opening ceremony
The ceremony, highlighting the official partner country, Indonesia, with the “The World’s Heart of Wonders,” was hosted by Raimund Hosch, President and CEO of Messe Berlin, and Klaus Wowereit, the governing Mayor of Berlin, who both warmly welcomed the thousands of attendees – including ministers, ambassadors and other high dignitaries from around the globe. Chancellor Merkel praised the international travel industry as the “gateway to the world” and recalled the beginnings of the show in 1966 with only 9 exhibitors from 4 countries and Germany. She called ITB Berlin “the trade fair for the tourism industry” and praised the fact that today there are more than 10,000 exhibitors from 188 countries.
The Chancellor suggested with humor that more Germans should take holidays in their own country and highlighted Germany’s wonderful hospitality. “If people already know Greece, Spain, or Italy and have a few days spare to make a short trip, Germany is always pleased to welcome guests,” said the Chancellor. Merkel cited Berlin, the Baltic and North Seas, the Black Forest, and the Elbe Sandstone Mountains as important German destinations. The beauty of Indonesia meanwhile was presented in a brilliant show, highlighting the amazing landscapes, the beautiful cultural heritage, and hospitality and friendliness of the people.
Countless colorful dancers and singers underlined the joy of life and spirituality with dance, sounds and rhythms. Kecak dancers brought the irascible, and Wira Perwiti dancers emanated the reflective power of Indonesia to the stage. National stars such as the singer Eka Deli and Sandhi SonDoro accompanied spectacular visual presentations.
President Bambang Yudhoyono addressed the attendees, saying it was a great pleasure to have been invited by Chancellor Merkel to the event, and echoed the importance of the industry on a global scale. “I hope through our participation we will see more German and European visitors coming to Indonesia,” said the President. “Tourism and travel create over 285 million jobs worldwide. Tourism accounts for over 9% of world GDP, and it is a critical engine that drives investment and stimulates economic growth. Today, many parts of the developed and developing world are still struggling to recover from ongoing economic difficulties, but the tourism industry has continued to grow strongly. The World Tourism Organization reported that international tourism increased by 4% in 2012, and reached one billion tourists. This growth is evident worldwide. In Indonesia, income from this industry has reached US$21 billion and has created around 9 million jobs. We are hoping to reach 10 million tourists by 2014, and I hope our friends here at ITB Berlin can help us achieve this target.”
Mr. Bambang Yudhoyono is a strong supporter of responsible tourism – so much so that he penned a song on the topic in 2010 after the Oslo summit entitled “Save our World,” which was performed at the opening ceremony. “Indonesians, like Germans, are strong believers in the challenge of climate change,” he said. “We are convinced that climate change is real. It is not fake or imagined.” He went on to outline Indonesia’s efforts to lower carbon emissions, and to proactively protect his nation’s rainforests, which, he underlined, are the largest on the planet.
The President underlined the key advantages of his country. “Indonesia is the most diverse country in the world. We are a quarter of a billion people, coming from some 1,120 ethnic groups, speaking hundreds of dialects and living across 3 time zones in the world’s largest archipelago, consisting of over 17,000 islands. This is why I believe that while our nation is blessed with plenty of natural resources, the true riches of Indonesia lie in our people, in our traditions, folklore. and cultures.”
MEDIA CONTACTS: Messe Berlin - Michael T. Hofer, Group Press and Public Relations Director; ITB Berlin / ITB Asia - Astrid Zand, Press Officer, Messedamm 22, 14055 Berlin, Tel.:+ 4930 3038-2275, Fax: + 4930 3038-2141, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org , Web: www.messe-berlin.com