Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How a dramatic, dynamic destination gets to be created

Berlin & tourism

As the modern heart of Europe, the fascinating city of Berlin is now more than ever aware of its colourful and often deeply traumatic and challenging history. As a result, the people of Berlin are committed to offer the world a vision for the future, which is genuinely thoughtful, caring and committed.

Every year for over 50 years ITB has been showcasing tourism's opportunities to change the world for the better. Its passion for diversity is palpable.

More than anywhere, I believe that it is where a healthy future for tourism and a generous vision for the world may be found.

Germany, and in particular Berlin, holds our future again in its hands.

Berlin is the natural cradle for world-changing sustainability with glamour and style.

You may ask why…

The answer is in Berlin's last century.

Just over 100 years ago Berlin was on the top of the heap - arrogant, haughty, convinced of its strength and power. Together with the massive Austro-Hungarian Empire, the newly created state of Germany ruled Europe.

Then came the First World War and Germany was slaughtered, a whole generation of males was lost and financial Armageddon occurred.

Gradually Berlin and its population came to enjoy art and music happy days and nights and a vibrant scene (if a bit louche)

Back up on the top of the heap thanks to the awful Nazi Regime, Berliners filled their chests with pride as their country conquered with a complete absence of pity. The jackboot marched all over Europe and hideous acts of unbelievable atrocity were perpetrated.

Coming from a western perspective it is difficult to understand the numbers and the actions of the Second World War. 419,000 Americans were killed and 450,000 British. Russia bore by far the worst toll losing at least 27 million (some say nearer to 50 million) and when the tide ran in their favour - the German people got the full brunt of their rage for their own deaths and those of the 12 million holocaust victims. Germany lost over 7 million and as the Russians conquered German territory there were over 2 million German women raped and Germany suffered a refugee crisis with over12 million homeless German refugees.

Berlin felt the full force of this Russian advance - you can imagine what this experience can have been for Berliners of a very recent generation. Raped, looted, tortured, killed (some may have said justifiably). What can Berlin have been like in 1945 - just over 70 years ago? An interesting thought when you visit ITB.

Yet Berlin's spirit and its buildings came back. In the 1960's Krautrock heralded the resurgence of music and as the Berlin Wall came down there was a resurgence of alternative art and music. David Bowie at Hansa Studios  Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Michael Jackson and hundreds of others all worked in Berlin to recreate an extraordinarily potent art and music scene.

And now Berlin's resurgence in art and culture, museums and clubs is dramatic and the city is seen as one of the hippest destinations in the world. And, maybe due to its past - one of the most thoughtful, considerate and open minded places you could possibly visit.

From a tourism perspective, Berlin is very important, it is now a hub of sustainable tourism thought and activity - economically, culturally, socially and environmentally. The ITB is part of this mindset. Looking at our current situation against the background of Berlin's past could be a very worthwhile exercise.

Valere Tjolle









100 years ago


90 years ago Louche cabaret


70 years ago


25 years ago Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Depeche Mode, U2, Brian Eno


Now a pinnacle of alternative living




And ITB is the epitome of alternative, groundbreaking travel & tourism: adventure travel doesn't get more adventurous,




The ethos is German so leisure is taken very seriously


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