Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

ITB2017 - a glorious enormous diverse melting pot

Responsible, sustainable, LGBTQ, political, social, sexy, ITB is anarchy as tourism overheats

From the sublime to the ridiculous, ITB has everything.

At ITB Germany's Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation Müller called for tourism to conserve and protect while offering benefits, had to ensure fair employment and do more to protect the environment. Sustainable tourism had to become a global strategy, he said.

Taleb Rifai in his last year as UNWTO General Secretary, said that tourism opens our hearts and our minds. Tourism can transform our world and build better understanding in a world living a deficit of tolerance

Slovenia, aims to be 100% green, displayed its green credentials - 60 per cent of the country has been declared a nature reserve, access to drinking water has been written into the constitution as a basic right. In 2016 Ljubljana was awarded the title of European Green Capital by the European Commission. Visitors can stay in a tree house, and harvest organic vegetables.

Astro-tourism, our night sky at risk. Two-thirds of all Europeans have never seen the Milky Way. This is a massive tourism opportunity for dark sky parks.

Call to concerted action: Governments need to lead the protection of children in tourism -The 32nd meeting of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection focused on the role of governments in advancing the fight against the exploitation of children in tourism.

"Child protection is the responsibility of all - communities, private sector, academia, but governments have a leading role to play" said Carol Bellamy, Chair of the Network, opening the meeting. "There is a bright and black side to tourism; we need to recognize the black side exists and address it with no shame. We need zero tolerance to any form of child exploitation. We cannot allow the tourism infrastructure to be used for this and shouldn't have any issues in exposing such situations", said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

Silk Road Countries from China to Italy focused on bringing sustainable tourism development to the area within the framework of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, 31 countries from the Silk Road and beyond exchanged best-practice on how to advance the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sustainable Development Goals  and tourism get together -Tourism can contribute to all 17 Goals. If properly managed, tourism can positively help address all the interconnected challenges facing people and planet including ending poverty, promoting gender equality, fostering jobs and inclusive growth and fighting climate change.

And the massive 'Pink Pound/Dollar/Euro' was colourfully represented New, bigger and more colourful: LGBT products came from around the world - lectures on unusual LGBT destinations and a transgender campaign - plus the reigning Mr. Gay Germany was on stage live

Above all it was worthwhile reading Taleb Rifai's sign-off speech to open the event. He said: "Tourism can transform our world and build better understanding in a world living a deficit of tolerance"

"We live the worst of times and the best of times. Times when we wake up every other day with the threat of terrorism at our doorstep and the glooming numbers of unemployment.  Times of isolationism and ill-conceived actions like travel bans, which do not lead to increased security but just to growing tension. Despite all these complex and interlinked challenges, despite acts against the freedom of travel, the power of tourism continues to shine through the darkness"  

 "Beyond the measurable advances that tourism can make possible, it is also a bridge to better mutual understanding among people from all walks of life."

 "In a world that seems increasingly short of tolerance and generosity, we should cherish tourism as a precious pillar of peace amongst communities and nations." he said.

"We all need to ensure that, as our sector grows, it contributes to the wellbeing of the world and not to its peril. Tourism must fulfil its responsibility to contribute to all 17 universal Sustainable Development Goals" he added.

Yet even with terror and unrest, tourism has continued to grow:

Political unrest and terror attacks yet again dominated the headlines. However, this did not result in a breakdown in global travel as people around the world kept traveling more than ever before in 2016.

Worldwide, the number of out- bound trips has increased by 4 per cent, reaching nearly 1.1 billion international trips according to the latest results of IPK's World Travel Monitor®,

But it was sometimes like this "Grey men in grey suits" said Responsible Tourism Campaigner Vicky Smith of  Earthchangers.

Valere Tjolle


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