Year on year, across the Routes events, we see an increasing number of airports attending alongside their tourism authorities and economic development agencies. Tourism authorities are coming to realise that good air transportation links are not only a vital component in the supply of viable tourism infrastructure and support, but also a key factor to the general economic development of cities, regions and communities.
The Routes team attends many different types of tourism events every year to encourage more tourism organisations to join forces with their airports and participate in the Routes events. ITB Berlin is one of the most important events in the team calendar and one we have been attending for over 10 years. The event, which gathers around 170,000 visitors each year, is the world's largest tourism trade fair and the companies represented at the fair include national and regional tourist boards, government officials, tour operators, airlines and other businesses relevant to the tourism industry.
I was recently invited to address one particularly important meeting, the 5th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting which took place on 4th of March during this year’s ITB Berlin. The meeting gathered Ministers of Tourism from 21 countries: Albania, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malta, Maldives, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Strengthening cooperation through transnational route development was the main topic of the discussion.
Routes has been in close cooperation with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for many years, as we share a common goal- to build tourism development across the world by bringing stakeholders together and realising the opportunities that exist. This unique invitation to speak at their meeting in Berlin was the first time we have been provided with the opportunity to present the Routes Silk Road 2015 event among tourism ministers. Coordinators of the UNWTO Silk Road program provided me with an opportunity to present our event and invite Ministers to participate in Routes Silk Road 2015, which will take place in Georgia in July this year.
Mr. George Chogovadze, chairman of Georgia National Tourism Board was in attendance and Ms. Alla Peressolova, Head UNWTO Silk Road Programme spoke about Georgia and its continued development proudly announcing that Georgia successfully hosted Routes Silk Road 2014 and that they look forward to welcoming us back for a second year. During the meeting, I had the privilege to speak to the assembled ministers and took the opportunity to outline the importance of the regional route development forum for destinations. I spoke about the importance of the face-to-face meetings which take place at our events the fact that over 450 meetings took place at Routes Silk Road last year the results of which brought five more new routes to the country leading to approximately 150,000 tourists per year.
After the Ministers’ Meeting, the Routes team present at ITB Berlin continued to spread the message about our upcoming events in 2015 and had conversations with more than 100 countries, across 3 days.
Image provided by Alejandro Gironés