For his first appearance at ITB Berlin, Germany’s new Federal Minister for Economy and Climate Protection Robert Habeck relayed a strong message about Ukraine, as well as the necessity of respecting the environment when travelling.
Robert Habeck is a newcomer at ITB Berlin, as he only became Germany’s Minister for Economy and Climate Protection last December. But for his first (virtual) presentation, he pointed out that it was probably the most difficult opening words for an ITB event. “News of dying people, falling bombs, fleeing children and women in Ukraine makes it incredibly difficult. However, I found that it was important to me to address the industry. I think there is no better activity than tourism to act as a counterweight to war,” he said.
“Tourism is the means to meet people for what they are: people. This is the way to raise tolerance and understanding of ways other people live. ITB brings the hope of open borders, of knowing people and not considering the others as enemies,” he said.
The presence of the Minister – who described himself during his speech as a ‘tourism minister’ – at the ITB Berlin Convention, also sends a strong message about the importance of the industry. “Over 40% of all the State subsidies were directed to the tourism industry. This represented over €20 billion,” stressed Habeck. The Minister pointed out that tourism represents 4% of Germany’s GDP, providing 9% of all employment in Germany.
Germans, champions of international travels… and related CO² emissions
Habeck highlighted the fact that Germany remains a very attractive country for holidays. During the pandemic, it was even more appealing for domestic and European visitors. Meanwhile, Germans continued to be the world champions for international travels last year. “Germans’ travelling brings not only revenues to our own country but also helps generate economic benefits for the others,” said the Minister.
However, if Germans are world travel champions, they are also world travel champions for fossil energy spending. According to data released by the federal office of statistics, in relation to a benchmark of final energy consumption from the country’s total energy, 3.3% of all German energy consumption is used for the production of tourism-related products.
According to Habeck, German travel generates 8% of all carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions from tourism-related transport. “Travellers need to have a new approach to sustainability and neutrality. We do not want to see travel being a factor of our planet’s destruction,” said the Minister, who pleaded for a better use of public transport alternatives when on the move.