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ITB Berlin: Minister Müller appeals to tourism professionals’ conscience

ITB Berlin: Minister Müller appeals to tourism professionals’ conscience

Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation Dr. Gerd Müller appealed to the tourism industry to actively address the lack of sustainable tourism. “This luxury sector must be capable of getting to grips with the issue,“ the CSU member said in a stirring keynote speech at the ITB Berlin Convention. Müller confronted his audience with three demands: Tourism had to conserve and protect while offering benefits, it had to ensure fair employment and it had to do more to protect the environment.

To underline his first demand he cited the example of Botswana, the partner country of ITB Berlin. The country had been able to stabilize safari tourism by enforcing a general hunting ban and declaring over 40 per cent of its land surface as a nature reserve. Germany made a huge contribution, he added, by annually providing 1.2 million euros to support the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which covered an area greater than Sweden and crossed into five different countries in southern Africa.

Illustrating his second demand he said, “Local inhabitants must not be mere onlookers at luxury resorts.“ Providing there was a committed effort to sustainable tourism local inhabitants could be part of the concept, and they would consequently understand the benefits of travel. At the same time he called upon tourists not to order ’fish and chips’ in developing countries. He also criticized that in many cases people working on the cruise liners of large companies rarely saw the light of day.

There were around 550 cruise liners on the world’s oceans, Müller said, and added they were a bad example for his third demand. Away from port, they often ran on heavy fuel that pumped 3,500 times more sulphur into the environment than road vehicles on normal diesel. He also talked about insufficient efforts to recycle plastic bottles. If this continued for a few more years the oceans would “soon contain more bottles than ships.“

He did not deny the fact that in certain sectors efforts were being made to promote eco-tourism. However, sustainable tourism had to become a global strategy, the minister said. One could start on one’s own doorstep. In Germany, barely five per cent of tourist accommodation had acquired sustainable tourism certification.

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