Germany's tourism industry is hoping for another record year as the world's biggest trade fair opens its doors. Egypt is hoping to use the ITB to attract tourists back following a year of turmoil.
The annual ITB international tourism trade fair opened its doors for its first visitors in Berlin on Wednesday, as more than 10,000 exhibitors from 197 countries court vacationers and investors.
The German tourism sector, which set a new record in 2011 with 394,000 overnight stays, expects to break through the 400,000 mark in 2012.
German Economy Minister Philipp Rösler officially opened the 46th edition world's biggest tourism trade fair on Tuesday evening. Rösler described the industry as an engine that drives economic growth and creates jobs. An estimated 2.9 people are employed in the tourism sector in Germany.
Partner country looks to bounce back
Tourism has been struggling over the past 12 months in Egypt, which is the official partner country for this year's convention. The turmoil that the country has experienced since the start of the uprising that led to the resignation of long-time President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 has caused many tourists to stay away.
At the same time, he expressed cautious optimism that the tourists would come back.
"The road will be long and sometimes bumpy, but we are confident," Abdel-Nur said. "We are seeing some positive signs."
The first three days of the trade fair, which is expected to attract around 170,000 visitors, are only open to people involved in the industry. It opens its doors to the public on the weekend.
pfd/acb (dpa, dapd)